Parking and Manoeuvring

October 28, 2013

Proper parking and low-speed manoeuvring is an important aspect of being a safe and responsible driver.

First of all, we should consider safe, legal and convenient places to park and then apply these important considerations:

Before attempting a parking manoeuvre, we should ensure that we’ve completed a thorough all-round check for danger.

Whilst it’s unlikely that mistakes made during low-speed manoeuvring would result in someone’s death, there’s still the chance of injury to pedestrians and let’s not forget the unnecessary expense and hassle which results from a collision with inanimate objects.

All parking/manoeuvring should be done at very low speed to reduce the risk of hitting someone or something, or at least mitigating the effects if we do.

As discussed in my Muscat Daily article of September 30, all vehicles have blind areas and we shouldn’t rely entirely on mirrors. I regularly see drivers reversing whilst still looking forward and either neglecting their mirrors altogether or only glancing once or twice.

Would you feel comfortable driving forwards even at low speed whilst looking backwards? No? So why are we so ready to do it the other way round? Vehicles are, of course, primarily designed to spend most of their life going forwards.

This means that their inherent design features can make it difficult for us when we wish to reverse. Next time you get behind the wheel, turn round and look out of the rear window. How’s the view compared to looking out of the windscreen? Not that good, is it?

See how a small child can easily remain hidden, which is why it’s also a good idea to have windows down during reversing so danger can be heard as well as seen. We may have to park at the kerb between other vehicles. This is called ‘parallel parking’.

However, if the space is tight it would be impossible to accomplish such a manoeuvre going forwards. To do so, we would need a space at least twice the length of our vehicle. However, going backwards, perhaps a length and a half will usually suffice.

When parking in a marked bay we should consider either reversing into it or driving forwards through one bay and into the one in front.

The latter is the ideal method because no reversing is necessary either to enter or leave. We should do our best to ensure that if we have to reverse, it should be towards the ‘dead area’ ie where there is nothing moving. This means that we’ve set our vehicle up to enter the ‘live area’ when we leave with the best vision available because we’re going forwards.

When we park we should already be planning our departure. However, many drivers take the ‘easy option’ by driving forwards into the ‘dead area’ and then being confronted with a limited-vision reverse into the dangerous ‘live area’.

When we’ve parked with our vehicle facing outwards, it also assists safety by keeping children behind the barrier created by the doors.

There’s no such assistance when we go in forwards. In fact, danger could be increased because there would be a door between the children and us which would hamper our ability to prevent them. Some car parks are specifically designed for forward parking usually with bays set at about 45° to the line of the driving area.

Whenever we can, though, we should apply the described best practice. Remember the ‘safe, legal and convenient’ rule together with the need to apply very low-speed manoeuvring.

Get out and look if you can’t see what’s behind, or consider asking a passenger or some other person to assist. The best drivers park responsibly.

Do you? Safe driving!