Driving is simple – until it’s time to park your car. Suddenly, the pressure is on to find a space, manoeuvre your car into it, manoeuvre some more (because, let’s face it, no one nails it first time) and then exit the car to go about your business.
Whether you’re driving a hybrid estate car or petrol SUV, parking is never as straightforward as it should be. It is, however, an inevitable part of being behind the wheel.
Sam Sheehan, motoring editor at cinch, said: “For many of us, parking is the most stressful part of driving. Whether it’s a case of not being able to find a space when you get to your destination, or that the last space in the car park will be difficult to get your car into, it’s a part of driving that many of us don’t enjoy.
“However, there are ways to mitigate against the challenges of parking. Planning ahead is key – if you’re going to be parking somewhere unfamiliar, put at least two car park locations into your sat nav.
“As with all elements of driving, a calm approach to parking will win the day. Staying cool and collected while being courteous to other drivers makes you a better driver and helps everyone get to where they’re going safely.”
Preparations for parking
Failing to prepare means… driving round and round in circles, trying to find a parking spot, wasting valuable time and even more valuable fuel.
Make appropriate preparations by first researching the parking options you have. If you’re going to a shopping centre, you’ll likely already have a good idea of where you can park and other details such as timings and prices.
However, if you’re going to an unfamiliar spot where there might be on-street parking, for example, such as someone’s house or workplace, you should familiarise yourself with the parking regulations.
It might also be a good idea to plan for parking reservations or permits, if the situation calls for one.
The ‘dos and don’ts’ of parking
The physical act of parking comes with its own ‘dos and don’ts.’ Failing to do what you should do (or doing something that you shouldn’t) might get you into some pretty hot water.
Plus, it can just be plain rude on other drivers. Be aware of other drivers and remember some basic parking etiquette:
What you should do
Follow designated parking areas and signs – They’re there for a reason, so don’t go rogue by taking shortcuts or ignoring the rules.
Drive at a safe speed and be aware of pedestrians – An obvious one, but always worth a reminder. Driving at excessive speeds can lead to points on your licence and a fine. And, as you begin manoeuvring your car into the chosen spot, keep an eye out for pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers.
Park within designated parking lines – You’d be surprised by how many drivers fail to park within the given lines. Doing this could put your car or somebody else’s car in harm’s way, and in some situations can render the adjacent space unusable for a standard-sized car.
Respect accessible parking spaces (often denoted by disabled/wheelchair markings) – These are parking spaces for Blue Badge holders only. If this isn’t you, keep driving and find another spot.
Avoid using your horn unnecessarily – No matter how much of a rush you might be in, there’s no need to honk your horn at other drivers in frustration. In fact, it’s an offence to do so unless there is a danger to other road users.
What you must never do
Park in restricted zones or obstruct access to properties – “But I’ll only be five minutes”, you might tell yourself. How long you’ll be isn’t relevant to the situation.
Misuse disabled parking permits – If you’re disabled or have a health condition that affects your mobility, you can apply for a Blue Badge. It’s a criminal offence for you or anyone else to misuse your badge.
Block driveways, crossings or pavements – Leave people’s driveways clear, and always make sure other road users have the space to safely pass or cross the road.
Take parking spaces assigned to specific businesses or individuals – If there’s an official sign or plaque that marks a parking space is to be used by a specific business or individual only, it’s your responsibility to respect that.
Leave litter behind – Put your rubbish to one side until you find a bin. There are fixed penalties for dropping litter out of your car, or if taken to court you could be fined as much as £2,500.
Interacting with other drivers
We’ve all got places to go and people to see; this doesn’t make one driver’s situation more special than another’s. With that in mind, be conscious of how you interact with other drivers while on the road and in car parks.
- Always use the appropriate car signals to communicate your intentions, such as your indicators, even if you think no one else is around.
- Never become aggressive or confrontational with another driver.
- Be patient when waiting for someone to exit the parking space you want. They might be struggling (we’ve all been there), so a bit of courtesy will go a long way.
- Say ‘thank you’ if another driver lets you out first or gives you their parking space. Manners don’t cost a penny, after all.
When everyone follows the rules of parking etiquette, it makes it easier for everyone to find a parking spot, get where they’re going, and stay safe.