Parallel Parking For The Novice Driver
This could be the most talked about maneuver amongst new drivers and their biggest fear, when it comes to driving. I have heard of stories how drivers elect to park one or two blocks away to avoid parking between two cars.
The most important thing to consider when attempting a park between two vehicles is safety first.
Approaching a vehicle ahead of you, parked on the side of the roadway should be done and planned well in advance. The beginning of the maneuver should start far enough back. If the roadway is wide enough, check you're mirrors, touch you're brake pedal to warn other drivers that you are slowing down and stopping. Signal to the right, assuming we are parking on the right. Check you're right shoulder, keeping the steering wheel straight. Once everything is safe, gradually move over, and drive in a straight line alongside the vehicles you're planning to park between. Do not attempt to move in at the last minute, towards the vehicle. You should be planning this far enough back to swing in sooner, so you will be going straight along side the vehicle, as you approach the vehicle in front of you. You should have a minimum of a couple of feet clearance.
As you pull along side the spot that you are attempting to park, pause, and make a decision on the size of area. This decision should only take a couple of seconds. Is it big enough for you're vehicle? You should have a few feet extra on both ends of the car. You have to leave enough room for other drivers that may attempt to back up, if they have to clear the vehicle in front of their car, to get out. Once you have made the decision that the area that you are going to park is big enough. Continue straight ahead, and stop, when you are parallel to the vehicle you are going to park behind, and change gears to reverse.
Look out the back passenger window and check if you can see the tail end corner of the vehicle, you are parking beside. If you can see it, this is you're turning point. If not, check you're left shoulder for pedestrians. You shouldn't have to worry about traffic at this point. You're front end is not swinging out. Only when it is safe, roll straight back, looking out the back passenger window, and stop when it comes into view. By doing this, you're vehicle front end should clear the car in front of you, but you still have to check to make sure, when you swing in. It will not work if you're only a couple inches away from vehicle you're beside. You need to be two or three feet away.
Now is the time to make the maneuver into the parking spot. First we have to do some safety procedures. Check you're mirrors for vehicles and cyclist coming up behind you. Check you're blind spot just in case there is someone coming across, from you're left side. If you're back end is going to swing into the parking spot, the front end is going to swing out, further into the roadway.
Once the safety checks are all done, and you can see the tail end of the vehicle beside you. Move in slowly with you're foot covering the brake only to ease up to get the vehicle rolling, and pushing down to slow the vehicle. Use the gas pedal only to get it rolling if you have to, but make sure you are covering the brake during the majority of this maneuver. You should be looking out the back window and watch the curb of the sidewalk slowly disappear along the tail end of you're vehicle. It'll slowly disappear from the left side to the right side. Once you think you cannot see it on the back corner of you're side, behind you, pause and gradually turn the wheel the other way. The faster it disappears, the faster you have to turn the steering wheel. Once it is all gone along the tail end and corner of vehicle, the steering wheel should be turned all the way the other way at this point, before you roll back any further. Make sure you glance forward as you're front end swings in to make sure the front end of you're vehicle is clear of the vehicle in front of you. Once you know the front is clear, continue to look back until the vehicle is stopped.
Change gears and move forward with you're foot on the brake, keeping in mind, the wheels of the car is turned out towards the roadway. Straighten the front end of the vehicle and the wheels of you're vehicle. If you are not sure of the direction of where the wheels are turned, slowly release the brake and watch your front end roll and correct accordingly. (Check driving manual for wheel alignment when parking on a hill.)
This driving technique has worked for my students in the past, and I still use it. Vehicles have changed over the years, and it is harder to see the back end of the vehicle. Please consult with a family member, and or recognized driving school for further instructions on parallel parking.