Driving instructors constantly emphasise the importance of parallel parking as it’s a manoeuvre that is incredibly useful, especially when you’re hunting for a parking space in a busy city such as London.
With parking spaces in the capital often few and far between, and most of the on-street parking available in marked bays on side roads that are in high demand, being able to quickly and adeptly fit your car into a space is an invaluable skill.
Successful parallel parking does take practice, but it doesn’t have to be completed in any given number of manoeuvres. However, in a city such as London, with traffic building up behind you as you park, being able to complete the manoeuvre promptly will help you remain calm and avoid antagonising impatient drivers eager to overtake you.
As your driving training will have taught you, an all-round awareness of the road is essential. You should constantly check for oncoming vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists from all directions, pausing mid-manoeuvre if necessary to ensure their safety.
Having identified a parking space large enough to accommodate your vehicle, pull alongside the car that you intend to park behind, leaving approximately one metre’s space. Stop when your bonnet is slightly ahead of the parked vehicle’s. Check your mirrors to ensure there is no traffic approaching from behind or that any vehicles have stopped to allow you to complete the manoeuvre.
Engage reverse and begin to move backwards, keeping a close eye on approaching traffic from all directions. When the corner of the parked vehicle alongside appears in your left wing mirror, turn the steering wheel to the left one full turn.
Your car will start to enter the parking space. Continue slowly until the front of your car and the back of the parked car are aligned, then turn the steering wheel fully to the right, making sure your bonnet clears the parked car completely. With your rear wheel close to the kerb, maintain a slow speed to avoid clipping it.
In your left wing mirror, the side of your car and the kerb will gradually become parallel as you move into position. Turn the steering wheel to the left to straighten the wheels and stop here, applying the handbrake.
You will no doubt be as pleased to have completed the parallel parking manoeuvre as you will be to have secured a much sought-after parking space in the capital!