Skip to main content

How to Parallel Park Perfectly — Every Single Time

Are you a pro at parallel parking, or does it make you nervous? Parallel parking is an incredibly important driving skill, especially if you live or drive in a city. Whether you’re teaching a teen to drive, or you want to brush up on your own driving skills, we’ll cover how to parallel park without getting nicks, dings or scratches on your car along the way. 

Why is parallel parking important?

Parallel parking may seem like an outdated skill. As of May 2019, 16 states across the U.S. no longer require parallel parking knowledge to pass the driver’s education course.

But many people still believe parallel parking is important, and at Amica, we agree. Here are a few reasons why we think everyone should know how to parallel park:

  • You may visit an area that only has parallel parking available. You know what’s hard? Having to unexpectedly parallel park, especially when you don’t know how. You never know when you may visit a city where parking lots are scarce and on-street parking is required.
  • You may drive a car with limited parking assist features. Even if your current vehicle automates parallel parking, you may need to rent or buy a car without this technology. Not every car offers an automated parking feature.
  • It creates a better driver. Knowing how to parallel park demonstrates a familiarity — and comfort — with a car’s steering and size. It means you can safely maneuver a car, even in tight spaces. The bottom line: If a person can parallel park, they’re probably a better driver overall.
  • It’s usually required to pass the driver’s exam. In most states, new drivers must demonstrate parallel parking knowledge in order to get a license. If you’re a parent of a teen driver, it’s essential that you know how to parallel park so you can teach the concept. After all, you want to set your teen up for driving success.

Convinced yet? We hope so, because parallel parking is a relevant skill. Chances are, you or your teen will have to parallel park at some point. And when you do, you don’t want to miss out on a spot or, worse, hit a vehicle.

How to parallel park, a step-by-step guide

If you’re ready to teach your teen driver how to parallel park (or brush up on your own skills), review this guide. Before you know it, you and your teen will be parallel parking without hesitation.

Step 1: Create a parking space to practice. If you or your teen is new to driving, you may want to begin in a parking lot. Use cones to create a space that’s at least three feet longer than your car on both ends. For example, if your car is 15 feet long, place the cones 21 feet apart. This should provide enough room to practice.

Step 2: Discuss how to find legal parking spots. Usually, parallel parking is necessary in areas where there are parking regulations and garage parking is limited or pricey. Brush up on parking signs so you know where you can park legally. You should also know when parking is free and how to pay for metered spots. After all, you don’t want to face hefty parking tickets in the future.

Step 3: Pull up next to the car that’s in front of the space. This is the part that takes practice. It may take a few tries before you or your teen understand how close to place the car before backing in.

Step 4: Turn on the signal and start backing up. Use the turn signal that points in the direction of the parking spot. This will let other drivers know where you’ll be parking. Use the side and rearview mirrors to make sure no one is behind or next to the car. It also helps to turn around and check for cars, bicyclers and pedestrians. If no one is there, slowly start backing up and continue until the vehicle is about halfway past the front car.

Step 5: Turn the wheel toward the parking spot. Start turning the steering wheel in the direction of the parking spot and continue slowly driving it in reverse. Continue driving backward until the car is at a 45-degree angle to the front car.

Step 6: Turn the wheel in the opposite direction. Next, turn the wheel in the opposite direction and continue reversing. Once you have cleared the car in front of you, start turning in the opposite direction until it is parked. This will also take practice to perfect.

Step 7: Aim for six inches from the curb. Parking too close to the curb can damage the car’s tires. But parking too far away can disrupt traffic and cause an accident. Once you and your teen have parked, get out of the car and look at how close the car is to the curb. If you need to, pull out of the spot and try again.

Remember, parallel parking and learning to properly use all of your mirrors can take time to master. It’s OK to start practicing with cones and move slowly to real-life parking scenarios. When you do head out, look for parking spaces that are large and on roads with limited traffic.

New auto technology that can help you parallel park

Many of the latest vehicle models have technology that parallel parks for you or, at the very least, alerts you to objects near your car. If you’re in the market for a new car, consider researching parking technology.

Here are some of the latest solutions on the market:

  • Automatic parallel parking: Car manufacturers know that millions of people have “parallelophobia,” or the fear of parallel parking. In response, they’ve developed automatic parallel parking, which can guide the car into a spot and alert you if there isn’t enough space.

  • Cross-traffic alert: This technology alerts you when you’re backing out of a parking spot and another car is behind you. It’s especially helpful when paired with a backup camera — and can save you from an unnecessary fender bender.

  • 360-degree camera: Cameras are placed on every side of the car to provide a 360-degree picture of the space around your vehicle. The pictures are then combined to offer a top-down view of the car. This feature can help avoid accidents at slow speeds and small dings.

  • Exit warning to protect cyclists: Unfortunately, it’s common for parked drivers to open their doors and hit a cyclist. This feature uses sensors to detect bicycles and cars, and prevent drivers from opening their doors to a collision.

Auto safety technology has incredible benefits. In fact, according to one study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a rear automatic-braking system, along with backup cameras and parking alerts, can lower the risk of an accident by 75% or more. If you can, consider investing in these features. They may help keep your family safe and limit the damage to your car.

Accidents happen – how to handle a fender bender

Technology can help reduce the risk of accidents, but it’s important to pay attention and use other safe driving practices. As you or your teen parks, drive slowly and use mirrors for guidance. Watch out for pedestrians, other cars and bicyclers approaching. Finally, stay focused and avoid common distractions like cellphones, GPS systems and the radio.

If you get into a fender bender while parking, try not to panic. First, make sure you and your passengers aren’t injured. If they are, seek medical attention right away by calling the police. Once you’re comfortable that everyone is fine medically, move ahead with these steps:

  • Look for the owner of the other vehicle. If you’re parked and can’t find the other party, leave your contact information, including name, phone number and insurance information on the car. If you drive away, it could be considered a hit-and-run crime, depending on where you live.
  • Call the police to report the accident. For any accident, it’s important to file a report with the police. It also helps insurance companies understand what happened and how to approach the claim.
  • Contact your insurance company. An insurance professional can help you understand how your policy can help. For example, you may have collision coverage to help pay for car damage, liability coverage to pay for medical bills and reimbursement on a rental if you can’t drive your car for a period of time.

Remember, when it comes to parallel parking, practice makes perfect. If you and your teen spend a significant amount of time learning how to parallel park, it can be easy — not something to fear. 

Get an auto insurance quote

or call 833-513-3881

How Stuff Works
The Drive
The Zebra
Kelley Blue Book
U.S. News and World Report

Your Policy, Policy Declarations or Amended Declarations in effect on the date of loss is the primary source of reference for your coverage, coverage limits and deductible amounts.

This inclusion of non-Amica companies, products, services or statement herein (“Third-Party Content”) is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by Amica Insurance. Policies, views, opinions or positions of Third-Party Content expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions or positions of Amica Insurance. Amica Insurance makes no warranties, express or implies, as to the accuracy and reliability of Third-Party Content.

This content may contain helpful tips, explanation and advice. Your use of this information is voluntary and may not be effective in every circumstance. Amica encourages you to use good judgement and put safety first.

For more information on our editorial process and content standard, take a look at our editorial guidelines.