Here are some tips to improve your technique and to keep your vehicle from being dinged and scratched by cars parking beside you.
Do’s and don’ts
If you don’t want your doors to end up lined with unsightly scratches, try (if you can) to park next to a four-door vehicle. Since their doors are shorter than those on a two-door model, there is less chance of them hitting yours. You should also be able to reduce the number of knocks and scratches on your doors by parking next to compact and sub-compact cars when you can, because they are narrower than vehicles in other categories.
The best place to park is always next to the newest vehicle you can find on the lot: its owner will be taking as much care as you to prevent scratches on his or her car. Similar logic dictates that you should avoid parking next to a rust bucket, because it’s unlikely that its owner is going to be worried about his or her vehicle’s appearance—or yours.
You should also try not to park behind a mini-van or truck, because it’s harder for drivers of these types of vehicle to see out the back and judge distances properly. This means they could quite easily back into your vehicle by accident.
In addition, the wise driver chooses not to park in the last space at the unprotected end of a row, especially in winter, because there could be ice nearby that could cause another vehicle to skid into yours. Also, since visibility leaves much to be desired at parking lot intersections, a collision could occur, and one or more of the vehicles involved could strike yours.
Therefore, unless there is a cement or metal barrier, or other type of protection at the end of the row, avoid parking in that last space at all costs.
Tips for reverse 90° parking
Unless prohibited from doing so, you should reverse-perpendicular park (i.e., back into the space) whenever you can. It will not only be easier for you to leave, but also to get into the spot, especially if it is narrow: backing up gives your more manoeuvrability and allows you to turn at an angle that is closer to 90 degrees, because the vehicle is pivoting around the rear wheels. To back up and straighten out, simply look at a fairly long distance out the rear window, picking a reference point in the centre of the parking space while frequently checking the space available between your vehicle and those parked on either side. Park your vehicle dead centre in the spot, parallel to the white lines. This ensures your vehicle is as far away as possible from both adjacent ones. In certain situations, reverse parking may be more difficult or more dangerous—for example, if your vehicle has a rear-end design that prevents you from accurately judging distances while backing up, or if you must cut across a driving lane.
Parking on slopes
Article 383 of the Highway Safety Code provides a very precise definition of how to park on a slope: “Unless otherwise indicated by the person responsible for the maintenance of the highway, a road vehicle must be parked not more than 30 centimetres from the near edge of the roadway and facing the same way as the traffic.
“Where a road vehicle is parked on a slope, the emergency brake must be applied and the front wheels must be turned so that if such vehicle moves ahead of its own momentum, it will do so toward the near edge of the roadway.”
Therefore, when parking on an uphill grade on a two-way street, always turn your front wheels to the left, but if you are parking uphill on the left side of a one-way street, turn them to the right. When parking on a downhill grade, do exactly the opposite.
Once the wheels are properly blocked against the curb, engage the parking brake while keeping your foot on the brake pedal. Next, slowly lift your foot from the brake to allow the parking brake to immobilize the vehicle. When, and only when, you are certain that the parking brake is keeping the vehicle from rolling: if your vehicle has automatic transmission, shift to the “P” position; if your vehicle has manual transmission, shift into first gear if on an uphill grade, or shift into reverse if on a downhill grade. To leave the parking spot, repeat the steps in reverse: step on the brake pedal, disengage the parking brake, shift into gear and drive away.
First, use your turn signal to tell others you are about to park, then stop your vehicle parallel to the one parked in front of the spot where you want to go, about a metre away from that vehicle and with your rear bumper aligned with its rear bumper. Back up while turning the steering wheel, toward the curb, depending on the speed you are going. When the vehicle reaches a 45° angle with the curb, straighten out the wheel until your vehicle’s front bumper is just past the rear bumper of the vehicle in front. Continue backing up, and turn the steering wheel away from the curb to bring your vehicle parallel to the curb. Once you are parked, straighten out the wheels, unless you are on a hill. Throughout the manoeuvre, look out the back of the vehicle, and periodically look ahead and to the sides.
30 cm from the curb
A final tip. If you have enough room to drive forward into a parking space parallel to the curb—no farther than 30 cm from the curb, per the Highway Safety Code—simply aim at the curb through the farthest central point you can see on the hood of your vehicle (without changing your driving position). That point may be as close as the centre of the base of your windshield, or as far as the edge of the hood; it depends on how tall you are, and on the shape of your vehicle.
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