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Learn How to Parallel Park and Pass Your Driving Test Now!

Updated on June 13, 2012

Learning How to Parallel Park and Pass a Driving Test -- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Teaching someone how to drive, including parallel parking, can be a bonding experience or make you crazy. For my son and I, it was a little bit of both. Here's a bit of what we learned from the experience, with a bit of driver's license humor tossed in.

Learning to drive can be stressful both for student and teacher (especially parallel parking), so I wanted to include the lighter-side of the topic.

To frustrated student drivers, you can learn to parallel park. Be patient with yourself and keep trying, but remember to make adjustments so you aren't trying exactly the same method that just failed. If you really aren't getting it, come back and watch the parallel parking videos below again.

Must-Watch Videos for Learning to Parallel Park - A LOOK at How to Parallel Park

I watched a pile of videos on YouTube about how to parallel park, but these three were the best. They all teach essentially the same method, but have slightly different phrasing. I felt they reinforced each other nicely.

Mom and Kid -- Parallel Parking Lesson

Let's Learn How to Parallel Park, Dear

So after we watched the How-to-Parallel-Park videos on YouTube, I took my son Sam over to the school which has a nicely defined curb in front of it and little traffic. He pulled the car up and I placed cones well outside (maybe 10 feet beyond) the car's corners, the cones were to represent the cars he would be parking between.

Since the cones were tiny, we needed the one which represented the street side of the car he was parking behind to be taller. So I stood there. Mom pretends to be a car... how my career as an actress begins... not really. At least it was a gorgeous fall day and I could admire the red and orange trees against a blue sky, while my son drove around the bus circle and the parking lot to approach our practice area. Basically, he practiced what they taught on the videos. It took a number of tries to get one success, a lot more tries to get the next success.

At times his frustration was visible, but his driving test was 3 days away, so we perservered. For me that meant standing there, smile on my face, not thinking about the million tasks at home waiting for me. Around the bus circle, around the parking lot.

"Sam, you MIGHT want to go just a little bit slower." I suggest and smile sweetly.

His look says it all.

He gets to the point where he is successful slightly more often than not. Time to go home and take a break (from the task and each other) and then we are going to go into the town to see if Sam can parallel park between real cars.

Surprise! Sam finds it easier to parallel park with real cars, says that there are a lot more visual clues. We practice for about 20 minutes and head home, thrilled with our progress.

Story continued Below

What's the Funniest T-Shirt about Driving - Take a break from learning how to parallel park

So take a break from learning how to parallel park and tell us which of the following T-Shirts you think is the funniest? Click the t-shirt image if you want to see purchasing info.

Someone asked where you can buy these shirts. Just click on the shirt you like and it should open a new window with purchasing information!

So Which Driving/Driver's License shirt do YOU think is funniest?

See results

The Driving Test -- Parallel Parking and Other Perils!

About 3 days later, Sam and I go for his driving test. He said that the first intersection he pulled up to, the tester told him he should have been further to the right. I'm not quite sure I understand this, since there was not room for a second car to his left (he was turning right). The quick criticism unnerves Sam a bit, but he continues on.

Second intersection, the instructor explains that Sam's wheels should not have entered the crosswalk. Apparently even if the crosswalk is empty, you must stop before it. Then if you can't see the intersection, you slowly move up to where you can actually see the intersection. Hmm... we're not doing too well.

Now, the parallel park. Sam takes a deep breath and executes a near perfect parallel park. No sooner has he breathed his sigh of relief than the instructor tells him that he did not check his mirrors throughout the parking. That he only checked them before putting the car into reverse and that he must continue to check them. Starting to feel doomed to failure, Sam's driving gets worse and the criticism continues.

He failed. Ouch.

We talked quite a bit about whether to try to take the test at another location, how long to wait, why the tester was so critical, etc. About a month later, I take a now, extremely-nervous kid up for a retest to the same location. BUT.... he gets a different tester. Yippee!!! And he passes no problem, despite feeling that his driving was not really significantly different.

My advice to new drivers is to prepare the best you can, but realize that if you don't pass, you can try again and that how well you are driving is somewhat a matter of personal opinion. And to parents... remember when your biggest worry was whether you'd ever get them out of diapers??

Good luck in your travels!

What's Your Opinion About Parallel Parking

Given that you can choose to never parallel park -- by using parking garages, parking lots or simply staying out of the city...

Should parallel parking be a required portion of all driving tests?

See results

To the mountains in 1972 Chevy Corvette Stingray Convertible Roadster

">to the beach in Corvette Callaway C12, 1998

OR.... Just to school and back? Or.....

tell us your thoughts

Once You Get Your Driver's License You'll Need Car Insurance

Car insurance isn't cheap, especially for new drivers, so make sure you get the best rate by comparing

Here's a link to compare auto insurance rates and make sure you get the best deal! Fill out one form and get quotes from many companies. Find the best deal for you.

Oh the Places You Can Go! - Where Do You Want to Go When You Get Your Driver's License?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very nice lens and so much informative for me thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Already got mine I'm legal! I've been everywhere! Thanks for asking, and thanks for sharing this wonderful lens

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great information found in this lens.

      Thanks you! :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am a student STILL trying to master the parallel park, but I thought that some info that i've found out in this long drooling process could help anyone who's looking for perspective.

      Just like sam in the story, I failed my first time because i caught a bad instructor and mostly because I was struggling with handling my nerves. I completely and hopelessly backed myself in and hit the dreaded cone while inching around.

      However, unlike sam I caught the perfect instructor and STILL did not pass. This is rather frustrating-exspecially considering there is no one else to blame but yourself. I, again, hit another cone and kept asking myself "what is the problem?"

      I'm pretty sure i've come close to answering that. First, Above all, PARENTS, practice against a real curb. My family and I praticed in the wrong sized space and neglected the importance of the curb- and the distance of your car away from the curb is equally as important as getting it into the space. The distance of your car from the curb is 6 inches and the size of your parking space should be 6ft by 25 ft.

      Another important thing- something interesting- this test is actually, apparently, a judgement test. The place where my test is held actually has a camera on top of their building watching you park, and people on the inside watch you and this might be the reason your instructor could be strict in failing. If it looks too dicey- do yourself a favor and try to pull out again or find other strategies to safely get you away from the cones. Once you hit one- you're done.

      Above all- as a teenager myself- I hope parents are as patient as the one in the article. I'm blessed to have wonderful parents- but it's very frustrating being taught to park because no matter how many formulas you make there is no perfect formula to get you in the space right every time. For me- it is difficult to sit in the drivers seat and hear my parents talking out loud about how i might not make it in because i cut it too hard this time, or how i'm going to hit the cone now. Kids are smart- and they can hear you- so if your a parent or a teen reading this, try to realize the word patience is key. Let your teens try it on their own and figure it out before you come over and tell them what you saw. It really helps minimize frustration and helps the teen make better choices on their own when they actually take their test.

      Anyway-hope this helped someone. Wish me luck- 3rd times the charm

    • Bookmama2 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @cdltraining lm: Wow, that's very interesting. I wonder if anyone from Argentina has ever come to this country and continued to park that way -- it would not go well. Funny how what's acceptable or not in driving is different in different parts of the world.

    • cdltraining lm profile image

      cdltraining lm 

      6 years ago

      Great lens, thanks for the info! I've just been on a trip to Argentina and something that amazed me there was the parallel's more like "nudge parking". The gaps are small and everyone uses the bumpers to "test" how close they get to other cars. In other words, they bang into cars every single time they park...funniest thing of all is that it's completely accepted!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I had a very similar experience to your son Sam. I called my instructor the Gremlin after my test. He nitpicked everything I did. I failed because of parallel parking my first time. And a lot of it was over nerves. I dread the days I have to start teaching my kids.

    • Bookmama2 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: It should, but the biggest help is practicing!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I continue to fail my driving test because of parallel parking! I hope this video helps.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      great info

    • BrianColborne1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I liked your lens on parallell parking I think i will link to it on my lens as it definately provides value & helps my readers

    • Bookmama2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Curmudgeon (Ha! I love that name), you make a lot of valid points. Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Although not an often occurrence, I do find times when parallel parking is the only option. So, it is a useful skill, but beyond that I think it teaches new drivers more about car control than normal maneuvering because it forces the driver to consider how the steering inputs are going to position the car.

      Yes, parallel parking is a challenge, but what's wrong with a challenge? Trying to remove this from the driving test is just another example of our relentless efforts at 'dumbing down' America.

      I spent several years in Europe, and had to take the UK driving exam. It's much, much harder than the driving tests in America. One mistake and you fail. However, the result is that by and large the average UK driver is more skilled and competent behind the wheel than the average American driver.

      I think we'd all be better off making the driving tests harder in this country, not easier. I also think the driving portion of the test should have to be repeated every so many renewels. People tend to think that just because they've been driving for 40 years that they're a good driver, when in reality they've managed to pick up some pretty bad habits behind the wheel.

    • Cinnamonbite profile image


      7 years ago

      Since my driving test 30 years ago, I have NEVER parallel parked. Or parked on a hill. Those tests should take into consideration where you live.


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