Research undertaken by Citroen, the French car manufacturer, shows that 25% of drivers in the UK admit to having bumped another car when parallel parking, while 65% of us will search for a parking space with no other cars nearby to avoid a struggle.
That’s an awful lot of stress that could be avoided by following these simple parallel parking tips!
How to parallel park in the UK
1. Find a suitable parking space
A suitable space for parallel parking should ideally be a few meters longer than your car. Ensure that the cars in front and behind will you have enough room after you’re parked in order to be able to manoeuvre out of their own parking spaces. Make sure that you leave enough room for the car in front of you to be able to open its boot. Please be considerate and leave additional space behind the cars with disabled badges, as they may need extra room to get a wheelchair in and out of the vehicle.
Can a Blue Badge holder park in a Parent and Child parking space?
2. Get in position
Pull up as close as you can alongside the car parked in front of the parking space you're hoping to get into (car A). Straighten up so that you are parallel with car A, with the back of your car level with the back or front of car A, depending on which way it’s parked.
While stationery, turn your steering wheels as far as you can to the left.
4. Start moving
Turn around in your seat to look out the back of your car. Keeping your steering wheel locked to the left, start reversing very slowly towards the car parked behind the parking space you want (car B).
5. Take stock
When the front/back right corner of car B is in the middle of your rear windscreen, stop reversing.
6. Adjust your steering wheel
Without moving, turn your steering wheel back into the centre position.
7. Keep reversing
Continue reversing until the front of your car has just passed the rear of car A, then stop.
8. Adjust your position
Without moving your car, turn your steering wheel as far as you can to the right.
9. Nearly there
Keeping your steering wheel locked to the right, reverse into your final position.
10. You have successfully parallel parked your car!
Once you are parked, stop and turn your steering wheel back into the centre position.
With the basics down, these extra tips can take your parallel parking from acceptable to sublime...
Take it slowly
Drive slowly when you’re parking. Don’t succumb to pressure from other drivers to speed up and get out of their way, making you vulnerable to a costly mistake made in haste. Don't feel bad for holding them up briefly - you're just as entitled to the road as they are, and parallel parking isn't always a fast manoeuvre, which they'll understand if they're a good driver, and if not, they might be hoping to intimidate you so you give up and leave in search of an easier space - leaving them to park in the space you've just given up on!
So don't allow yourself to rush whilst parallel parking; even a scuffed alloy wheel, something that is easy to do with the latest generation of low-profile tyres, can cost upwards of £100 to repair.
Read our tips for safer overtaking
Think about how you will get out of the space
Reverse into a parking space in a car park if you can. It’s safer to drive out into traffic than it is to reverse.
Use your eyes
Don’t rely on your car’s parking sensors if you have them; check your mirrors and over your shoulders regularly when you’re maneuvering your car.
Practice makes perfect
Few drivers enjoy parallel parking but as you can see from the slide show above, it really isn’t that hard.
Why not set up a practice area in an empty car park? An hour invested now will probably turn you into a parking genius!
Which side of the road to park on?
Try to park on the left-hand side of the road when you’re parallel parking on the street. It’s safer and much easier than having to cross both lanes of traffic to park.
Don't get caught out by the 'crash for cash' scam
Use technology if you have it
If your car has a self-parking mode, why not use it? It might seem like black magic but it really does work and removes any parking angst.
If you aren’t confident in using it, your dealer will be happy to demonstrate it in action.
Think about other road users
Be mindful of leaving enough space for lorries and other large vehicles to get past your parked car. This is especially important near bends and side roads where they will need to swing wide to make the turn.
Should you consider installing a dash cam?
Don't forget when your parking ticket runs out
If there is a time limit on your parking space, set your phone’s alarm to remind you when you need to return.
Take a note of where you've parked
Parking apps are available for your smartphone that remind you where you’ve parked your car, something that would be very useful in a strange city or in a large multi-storey car park.
It’s worth keeping some change in your car to ensure you’ll always got the right money to use in a parking meter.
Those are our ten favourite parking tips, but what are yours? We’d love to hear them - email them in to firstname.lastname@example.org
Saga readers say...
'Please thank Carlton Boyce for his excellent tips on parallel parking. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our roads were wide enough to permit cars to park on-street in diagonal formation? This would overcome the need to reverse in with the good chance of hitting another parked car / scuff tyres or alloy rims / delay others while we struggle to park. Reversing out of a diagonal parking space is far easier than reversing into a nose-to-tail one.' Peter, via email
'I would suggest that you advise people to aim at pulling up their car so that not only are they parallel to car “A” but that their front wheels are already turned “left hand down” to ensure the back of their car immediately starts to get into the right position. In doing this, they need to not only watch carefully via their nearside wing mirror to avoid the car they are alongside, and also to watch via their offside wing mirror to align the offside of their car with the offside of the car behind them. This has always worked for me.' Philip, via email