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How to park a car

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 reverse, start, stop and guide 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 will go. Later, compare this to how you went.

Go to a safe and quiet place. Practice 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 whilst steering quickly as if to pull out from a parked position and then into a parked position.
  • Practice 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 feeling 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 will 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 and 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.
 

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