How to park
Learning to park is one of the first things you can do to build your driving skills. When you park, you perform many different actions that will help you on the road – parking requires you to use a number of driving skills (often at the same time) and become very aware of the car’s dimensions and how it responds to your actions.
Parking may seem intimidating, but with some good practice it'll soon be second nature to reversing, starting, stopping and guiding the car with precision.
Getting started - take small steps
Begin by setting an achievable learning goal for parking; tell someone or write down how you think you'll go. Later, compare this to how you went.
Go to a safe and quiet place. Practise the following small driving actions that make up parking; later, you’ll use them to learn to park with precision:
- Drive forward at a slow walking pace.
- Drive forward at a slow walking pace while steering quickly as if to pull out from a parked position and then into a parked position.
- Practise driving slowly and steering in reverse.
- If there is room available, try driving first to the right and then first to the left.
- Drive at a running speed, stop smoothly, and then do the same as above.
- Repeat the above steps until they take little effort.
- Then take more steps, and so on.
Repeat the steps until you find it easy to do. Aim to fit parking practice into every driving session. When one type of parking becomes easy, try doing it in a different place, time, or situation.
Good parking habits
Many good driving habits are connected with parking. When you park, make sure you check your mirrors before indicating, indicate for five seconds, and look over your shoulder before pulling out.
Understand the experience
When you have strong thoughts or feelings about a parking experience or situation, talk to your parent/supervisor about them, the effect they have on you, and work out the best way of dealing with it.
Parking avoidance syndrome
Many learner drivers delay learning to park; even some licensed drivers avoid tricky parking situations.
Here are some of the more common reasons for avoiding it and some suggestions on how to overcome the hurdles.
Reason not to try
Suggestion on how to handle it
It might cause an argument with your parent/supervisor
You won't actually be arguing about parking: you’ll be arguing about something deeper. Work out what it is and you'll solve other problems too.
You might crash the car
Take the right-sized learning steps. Start with easier parking aims, build up confidence and then tackle the more difficult ones.
Parking increases wear on the car
Doing lots of non-stop parking can put extra strain on some parts of the car. Before you start, get reasonably good at clutch control by driving slowly while steering forwards and in reverse. Then you can begin to vary the types of parks you do.
Learning to park is too hard or too stressful
Consider all the small parts that make up parking; driving forward, reversing, turning. You can learn these quickly and as you do, gradually put the parts together. Don't try to reverse parallel park straight away. Take small steps towards learning how and you'll find you can do it!
Parking can wait until later
Why delay something that can help you learn so much so quickly? If you learn to park well early, the skills of controlling the car will become second nature, and this will help you when you're out on the road.
It's not that important
Maybe you think when you get your P's you can choose easy parks. It's not always that simple, and you can end up driving around looking and looking... being able to park well can be really handy, and you can impress your friends.
Don't know how
Talk to your parent/supervisor or driving instructor and work out the steps that you need to take together.