Monday, 14 April 2014

Parking tips from the IAM

Many people struggle with parking, it's the manoeuvre that many people dread but unfortunately it's something we'll all just have to live with. While I can't show you how to achieve the perfect parallel park here, I can give you some advice on doing it as safely as possible.

You should always park on the left-hand side of the road. The Highway Code states 'do not park facing against the traffic flow', and at night this is a legal requirement, unless you are in a recognised parking space.

When looking for a parking space, drive slowly past a potential parking space and size it up to see if the car will fit. If you have a car on your tail, don't slam on the brakes and stop. If you have to carry on past it and turn round, or find another space, do that instead.

If you are parking in a car park, always try to reverse into the space. This is safer because you don't then have to back out into traffic. It's also more fuel efficient – you'll do the manoeuvring with a warm engine, and easier, especially when trying to get into a very narrow space.

Tempting thought it may be, don't just rely on your parking sensors to guide you. Your mirrors are vital for seeing what traffic or pedestrians are around you, so keep an eye on these, and remember to always check over your shoulder.

When you get out of the car, don't just swing your door open. Check for cyclists and other traffic, and take care when stepping out onto a busy road. It is always safer for pedestrians, particularly children and dogs, to get out on the pavement side.

Look after your car. Damage unfortunately does happen, especially in car parks. Park in the middle of the gap to give as much room as possible to open your doors, and for the driver next to you to open theirs, and tuck in your wing mirrors. When visiting a supermarket or shopping centre, try and park away from trolley parks and corners to avoid your car being exposed to damage from trolleys. And remember that other shoppers may not have put their trolley away properly. If it's dark and you have wet windows, they can be hard to see.

On hills you need to take particular care to make sure your car can't roll. Park close to the kerb and firmly apply the handbrake. When facing uphill select a forward gear and turn your steering wheel away from the kerb, and downhill select reverse gear and turn your steering wheel towards the kerb.

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