Simple tips turn this hated part of driving into a breeze

How to parallel park

Source: RACQ

Australian drivers’ No.1 hate has been revealed – and it won’t be a shock to many of us to learn that it’s parallel parking.

Only 8 per cent of the 1000 drivers who took part in a recent survey for insurer Budget Direct said they were extremely comfortable in their abilities to parallel park.

Many more, 61 per cent in all, admitted they didn’t like parallel parking because they worried about holding up traffic.

More than half (52 per cent) said they’d even considered buying a smaller car to make it easier, while 22 per cent said they’d pay extra for a car that had automated parking.

The phenomenon is so common it’s even been given a name: Parallelophobia.

About half of those surveyed were concerned about judging a space or estimating a distance, and 49 per cent worried about correctly aligning their vehicle and timing the turns.

It’s not just getting into parking spaces that deter people, 34 per cent of drivers are concerned about exiting a tight parking space or being parked in.

“Parallel parking can be daunting for some drivers, particularly if the parking space seems small or narrow or, if the surrounding cars are close to the lined perimeter,” RACV head of policy James Williams told TND.

“Drivers may also be apprehensive to attempt a parallel park during busy traffic periods when there are waiting cars, if they are driving a large or unfamiliar vehicle, or if they are not used to completing the manoeuvre.”

Who hates parallel parking the most?

Nearly half of female drivers say they rarely or never parallel park, while only 31 per cent of men say the same.

Women are also twice as likely to feel stressed or anxious when parking, compared to men.

There was also a bit of a generational divide, Budget Direct chief growth officer Jonathan Kerr said.

“Gen Z (25 per cent) and gen Y (26 per cent) car owners surveyed are most likely to have minimal or no confidence when it comes to parking whilst 64 per cent of the silent generation and just over half of baby boomers (52 per cent) told us they are very or extremely confident,” he said.

Cars parked in line on the roadside

Most Australians will avoid needing to parallel park. Photo: Getty

With new technology, parallel parking in the traditional sense could be a “dying art”, Kerr said – 48 per cent of car owners said they got some help from reversing cameras or sensors.

However, Williams warns people should not become too reliant on such technology to park.

Temporarily disabling technology (where possible) to practice parallel parking in quieter streets is a good way to re-learn the process of facilitating an unassisted parallel park,” he said.

parallel parking

The ultimate guide to parallel parking. Source: Budget Direct

Tips for parallel parking

Sometimes seeking out another spot to avoid having to parallel park isn’t an option. Last year, Budget Direct said about 60 per cent of drivers will need to do the dreaded park on a regular basis.

Fortunately, there are simple tips from RACQ that can help people nail the job.

  1. Use the car in front of the car space as your guide: “Pull up about half a metre to one metre away from the car, lining up the other vehicle’s front wheel with your left side mirror”
  2. Once aligned, put the car in reverse, check the right-side mirror and all the blind spots, making sure there are no oncoming vehicles or pedestrians. When it’s clear, look over your left shoulder and begin the manoeuvre
  3. Reverse slowly and straight back until the rear of the car next to you (which you used as a guide) is in the centre of your left-hand rear window. While still driving slowly, quickly turn the steering wheel to the full lock. You want the rear end of your car to head towards the kerb
  4. Once your left-hand side mirror is aligned with the other vehicle’s rear bumper and your car is on a rough 45-degree angle to the kerb, it’s time to start turning the wheel to the right.

Continue reversing, judging the clearance to the car in front of you until you are parallel and within 45 centimetres of the kerb. Your car should be at least one-two metres from the vehicles in front and behind,” RACQ said.

Topics: Cars
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