Whether you’re on the streets of a big city or at a small-town grocery store, parking your car can be a struggle. Sometimes you might be so focused on getting to your destination that you forget to think of others, but parking badly is a surefire way to get your car dented and make other drivers angry.
Here are some parking etiquette tips to help you get through the stress of finding the perfect space without aggravating other drivers:
Space: The Final Frontier
When parking, do your best to leave equal space on either side of the car. Leaving enough room can help prevent dings and dents, and it makes it easier for others to park next to your vehicle. Also, be sure to pull all the way into your space — but not so far that you pull into the spot on the other side. A good rule of thumb is to pull up so your doors are even with those of the car next to you.
The Great Standoff
It’s happened to everyone at some point: You’re sitting in a busy lot waiting for someone to back out of a parking space, and another car pulls up from the opposite direction and stops too. Since there isn’t time for game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, make sure you put on your blinker when waiting for a space. Also, stay close enough to the space so it’s clear which spot you’re waiting for — but don’t get so close that the driver can’t back out.
Winter is another time to be extra conscious of the people around you when parking. In cities like Philadelphia or Boston where parking is already limited, many drivers leave a lawn chair or a sign in a shoveled space to reserve it for their car. If you see a cleared space with a chair in it, don’t be that guy that steals the spot.
Everyone gets it; you have a new car that you want to keep in nice condition. If you’re concerned about keeping your car scratch-free, the courteous parking move is to go further out in the lot where there aren’t as many cars. Under no circumstances is it cool to take two spaces for your whip by parking over the lines or on an angle. Taking two spots is a surefire way to frustrate fellow parkers, and it could end with a nasty note — or worse.
Parallel parking isn’t easy, so if you’re going to an area that only has street parking, make sure your skills are up to snuff. When parking on the side of a street, be sure to park close enough to the curb so your car isn’t sticking out — the general rule is about 1 foot from the curb. Also, be sure you don’t take two parking spots and that you leave enough room between cars so drivers can pull out of their spaces.
When you think about it, parking a car is an essential part of driving, so there’s really no excuse to do a bad job. Be considerate of others, make sure you know where your car is, how much room is around it and that there’s enough space for others to park comfortably. This will keep your car free of dings, and you’ll avoid upsetting others in the process.
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Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.