Parallel parking is infamous for being one of the most stress-inducing aspects of driving. For those who do not feel confident in this area, it can truly fill one with dread when they realize they have no choice but to parallel park. At times, people even drive around and around the block or park far away just to avoid it.
On the flip side, for those of us who can execute a swift parallel park without breaking a sweat, we look forward to the challenge. There is a (somewhat ridiculous) feeling of victory when you perfectly slide on in to a spot that perhaps even you knew would be a tight fit. But being a skilled parallel parker is about more than just an ego-boost on your way to brunch. It is about safety.
Parallel Parking: Right of Way
Technically, a car that is parallel parking has the right of way. That being said, there are conditions to this. The driver needs to make it reasonably clear that their intention is to parallel park. Additionally, the driver must ensure that there is enough space between themselves and the vehicle behind them before backing into the space.
There is no law against going around a person who is parallel parking. As long as there is enough space on the left hand side of their vehicle to do so, you may go around. However, it is rare that you can both give the parallel parker enough room and avoid crossing over into the oncoming traffic lane.
Often, this means that the person parallel parking suddenly feels as though you are attempting to squeeze past them, without giving them enough space to continue executing their parallel park. And yes, if you two were to collide there would likely be a dispute about blame and depending on the circumstances liability may be placed on you.
So if you are waiting for someone who is trying to parallel park, give them some space. Be patient. One day, you will be in their shoes and you will appreciate someone giving you a little bit of extra room as well. And no, honking does not make them park faster.
As the parallel parker, there are a few things to keep in mind. Perhaps stop momentarily as you approach the spot you intend to enter so the driver behind you gets the idea that you are about to parallel park and gives you enough space to achieve your purpose. .Otherwise the following driver may snug onto your back bumper when you stop just before reversing and thereby block you from parking – very frustrating!
In very intense traffic conditions with cars, trucks, bicyclists and pedestrians going every which way, consider bringing attention to yourself and your intended parking maneuver by using your four way flashers.
In addition to turning on your indicator and giving yourself enough space to safely pull in, you need to be reasonable about your attempt. If you are on your third in-and-out again try for this space, maybe move on. This spot may not be the one for you.
Road Rules by Dominique McCrimmon and Cedric Hughes