Learning to parallel park is the most difficult part of learning to drive for many people, and even some people who have been driving for years are not comfortable with parallel parking. In fact, demonstrating an ability to parallel park is not always essential to obtain a driver's license, though never learning the skill can be a big handicap to a driver. The following advice may help take the mystery and stress out of learning how to parallel park.
First, when attempting to parallel park, relax and take your time. Begin practicing on streets that are not busy, and start by parallel parking on a curb with no surrounding cars. When you have mastered that, try parallel parking behind a parked car, then between two cars with a lot of space between them. Move on to more challenging parallel parking situations when you feel comfortable with easier ones.
To parallel park behind another car, put on your turn signal and pull up next to the other car so that your rear bumper is aligned with theirs. If you are parking between two cars, pull up alongside the first one so that you can back into the spot. Next, put your car in reverse while applying the brake. Check to see that the road behind you is clear of any vehicles that you might back into.
As you release the brake slowly, turn your wheel sharply towards the curb so that your car rolls in that direction. You will have to turn the wheel more sharply if you are trying to fit into a smaller space, and you will have to learn exactly how your car handles in order to know how tight a turn is necessary. Your ability to parallel park will improve with practice.
Again, go slowly, and gauge the angle of your car as you are backing into the spot, making sure it is going where you want it to go. It is okay to stop completely to assess your angle. Adjust the wheel as you back up to make sure you are accurately fitting the car into the parking spot.
While parallel parking, keep an eye on the road and your surroundings. Watch your mirrors, make sure your windows are clear, and be aware of other drivers. Remember to stay calm and to take your time. If you feel that you are at a bad angle or do not have enough space to finish parking without bumping other cars, you may need to pull out and start over. Ideally, a parallel parked car is about six inches (15 cm) from the curb, and, of course, parallel to the curb.