The Ultimate Parking Practice Guide: How to Pass Your Driver’s Test
Updated December 21, 2022.
When it comes to passing your driver's exam, few skills are more important than mastering the art of parking. This is especially true for parallel parking, which can be one of the trickiest maneuvers for new drivers. With a bit of parking practice and a few tips, you can quickly get the hang of it and ace your driver's test.
First and foremost, you'll want to get as much experience as possible before taking the road test. Many new drivers are nervous when it comes to parking, so the best way to ensure you’re confident and ready on the day of your road test is to learn different strategies to park well and then put them into practice over and over until you’re comfortable parking anywhere. In this post, we’ll cover some tips you need to know to improve your parking skills.
When should you practice parking?
New drivers are often unsure when to start learning to park. Is it best to practice parking first, or after gaining experience in other driving skills?
While there isn’t necessarily an exact order to when to begin practicing parking, we recommend that you practice other driving skills so that you’re comfortable enough to park. This means you should already be familiar with basic car mechanics and have some driving experience on the road. Once you feel ready, you can begin with some easier parking maneuvers and work your way up to parallel parking.
Let’s break it down even further.
Choose the right time for parking practice
The best time to practice parking is during off-peak hours when there is less traffic and fewer people around. This will give you more time and space to practice your parking skills without putting yourself or others in danger.
Find new neighborhoods to practice in
The area you live in may not be the best place for parking practice for a number of reasons. Maybe you live in a heavily trafficked area, there are many steep roads, or there aren’t a lot of parking spots nearby. For this reason, it’s best to begin your parking practice in an empty parking lot. This will help you focus on parking without having to worry about what other drivers are doing on the road. If you’re practicing at night, make sure the parking lot is well lit so you can see the lines and markers.
Different neighborhoods will have different types of parking available. For example, in a more urban area, you might be forced to try parallel parking on a narrow road, whereas somewhere suburban may have more public areas with indoor or outdoor parking lots for you to practice in.
Consistently increase the parking difficulty
Even if you’re practicing in the same neighborhood, there are a few ways you can increase the difficulty level to hone your parking skills. Here are a few things you might want to try:
- Parking with a smaller or larger car
- Changing angles while you park
- Add obstacles around a parking space like a shopping cart to see how you’d manage
- Reduce the size of the spot by trying to park closer to a line or the curb
Common parking mistakes to avoid
Being aware of mistakes new (and veteran!) drivers often make is a good way to avoid making them on your road test. Some of these common mistakes can even spell the difference between a pass and a fail on your road test.
- Not following the parking signs: It’s important to pay attention to the signs when you’re parking, especially in an area you’re not as familiar with since the parking bylaws may be different from what you’re used to. Make sure you read the signs in order to know what the rules are.
- Not leaving enough space: Always leave enough space between vehicles when you’re parking, whether it’s in a lot or on the street. This will ensure that other cars can get in and out without any problems.
- Parking in unauthorized areas: Don’t park in areas that are not designated for parking. This is often illegal and can result in a ticket or even having your car towed.
- Parking in disabled or reserved spots: While this may seem obvious, it can be easy to get confused if the disabled parking symbol on the floor is faded or the signage isn’t clear. It’s common for the spots closest to a building in a lot to be reserved for people with disabilities, pregnant women, or families. If you’re unsure, look for signs, check the cars around you in that spot if they have disability signs displayed on their dashboard, and make sure to never park in a reserved spot without a valid permit.
- Parking in a fire lane or in front of a fire hydrant: Fire lanes are for emergency vehicles only, and parking in front of a fire hydrant impedes access to it in the event of an emergency. Both cases will get you a ticket at best, or towed in the worst-case scenario.
- Block traffic or other cars: Make sure you don’t block traffic or other parked cars when you’re parking. This can create a dangerous situation and can also result in a ticket.
A step-by-step breakdown of parallel parking
While there are many parallel parking tips out there to help you perfect this skill, the best way to prepare for this part of the road test is simply by practicing. Once you get the hang of it, you might find that parallel parking is easier than you thought. By practicing the same parallel parking maneuvers over and over, you’ll be ready to go on the day of your road test.
When you first start parallel parking, there are a number of steps to follow to help you succeed:
- Find a spot that is big enough for your car. Make sure there is enough room to fit your car, as well as room to open your car door when you’re done parking.
- Turn on the appropriate turning signal to demonstrate your intention to parallel park.
- Make sure you’re facing the right direction. You should be facing the curb while you parallel park.
- Position your car parallel and slightly behind the car in front of the spot you want to park in. Make sure to leave enough room for your car to fit in the spot.
- Turn your wheel sharply towards the curb and back up slowly. Keep adjusting your wheel until your car is parallel to the curb.
- Once you’re parallel, turn your wheels to the right and straighten them out.
- Check your mirrors and continue to back up slowly until your car is in the spot.
- Adjust your steering wheel so that your car is straight, then put your car in park and turn off the engine.
Practice parking to ace your road test
Parking practice, especially parallel parking, can be a stressful ordeal for new drivers. Try not to beat yourself up at the beginning while you’re still getting the hang of it. Nobody nails parallel parking on their first try! Instead, focus on getting some parking practice regularly every week leading up to your exam, test yourself with new scenarios, and be sure to follow our parallel parking guidelines to help pass your road test.