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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:19 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Many are the drivers who struggle with reversing and parking. Verily backing up is complex: The steering mechanism, drivetrain and wheel alignment are all reversed, the driver's view becomes very limited below window height, and the driver is required to manuever into tight spaces and in between obstacles such as curbs, cars and children.

The results of a failed manuever can be financially painfull and frankly quite disturbing, but seemingly with no serious safety hazards, right? Wrong! Even backing up can result in tragic circumstances when a big vehicle is involved or when hitting a little child.

Also, severe collisions are correlated with light ones. Amongst other things, the finanical damage of various dents and blows can be spent where it would otherwise be spent on safety.

Back or Forth?
Reversing is dangerous. End of discussion. The solution: Do not back up! Choose your parking spot carefully. Even 500 feet of a walk are reasonable for finding a better parking spot that will cause no disturbence to others, will be safe in the sense that it will allow to move into the space more easily and by entering and exiting it by driving forward, and preferably so that your car will be protected from a risk of a collision (by not parking alongside the curb) or even from dents by parking in between poles or near walls.

When you simply must reverse, do so as little as possible. People often back up or saw back and forth too much without realising that they could have pulled forward much earlier and around the car or obstruction ahead. Just as important: If you must back up, do it early, rather than late. It's better to pull back into a space and pull out driving forward than vice versa. When you just enter the car you are not as well concentrated as you while driving.

Steering
A car's steering characeristics when backing up can be quite perplexing. When driving forward, it is the car's front wheels which rotate it about the axle of the center of gravity or the front-inside wheel, while the back wheels are dragged along in a tighter radius.

When backing up, the mechanism is reversed. The steering reacts later and more progressively, but the car itself takes a tighter and tighter arch, pivoting about the axle of the rear-outside wheel. Also, the front of the car is swung around the other side first, like a forklift, before it is turned in the desired direction. Reducing unnecessary steering inputs is necessary.

Vision
Providing an open visual field for the driver is perhaps just as important. If you all remember my advice on mirror adjustment, you know by now that I recommend mirrors to be adjusted up and out, so the car's sides are not seen. Clearly this isn't ideal for percise manuevers and, after all, no one mirror adjustment fits all driving situations.

So, the mirrors should be realigned for the sake of parking. Other than adjusting them inward to see the rear quarterpanel (up the rear door handle), you also need to adjust it downward. When parking besides a curb, adjusting the mirror to see the rear wheel in the corner of the mirror will do wonders to your manuevering. Modern cars have electronic adjustments for the passenger's side mirror on the very least, and often have a memory for two or three different adjustments, or that automatically "closes" the mirrors upon putting the car into revese.

But wait? Who said we even need the mirrors? What about the cool, body turned around, hand on the back of the passenger's seat method of looking through the back window?! Nah-ah! The only thing this method is good for, is for missing anything below door-height to your sides (like curbs), brushing against obstacles in front and mixing up the pedals so that you risk accelerating instead of braking, as well as other disadvantages.

Try to get the best vision through the mirrors, but also through all other means possible. As early as you start looking for a parking spot, turn off the radio, the phone-call and your discussion with your passengers, and open up the driver's side window. This will provide you the necessary concentration and the audible input through the open window.

Also, when parking, take a peek over your shoulder and over the other shoulder, through the open window, lean forward to extent your view through the side mirrors and away, or tilt your head to get a closer view behind. Use auxiliary mirrors if necessary, and shadows and reflections. Reversing sensors are also a good aid, and getting out and around the car is a good idea at any time, just as much as getting another person to help you with the manuever from the outside. With heavier and bigger vehicles, a walk around the car and the use of an assistant is always required, and a camera is often fitted, too.

It's important to know your car and develop a series of reference points through the your line of sight at the different windows of the car, that will allow us to gauge our location relative to the curb, car in front or behind, and the location of the rear and front wheels relative to the curb/other car.

Parallel Parking
So common, but so difficult in times, parallel parking can be difficult and challenging, if you do not know how. You can start by practicing in wider spaces, or in open areas, with cones or boxes marking cars and curbs (a car can be marked by fitting two phylons on top one another with a stick). You can also head for a dirt road and use a stick planted in the floor for the same purpose.

Other than mere practice, it's important to understand the geometry behind such a manuever. Clearly, the first step of such a manuever is to pull besides one car and go back to park behind it, without brushing against it. Since the car is pivoting around the outside-rear wheel when in reverse, we need to consider the location of our rear axle. If our rear wheel is in line with the rear bumper of the car ahead, it would be impossible for us to hit it. Of course we are performing the manuever from a safe gap of two-three feet from the car besides us, so we can place our car a bit more forward, but it's important to keep this point in mind.

Now, with the steering cranked all the way into the desired space behind the car besides us, we need to back up and allow the car's back to enter the space while still allowing us to straighten into the space by squeezing the front end through. This requires to situate the car with the said outside rear wheel located at 45 degrees to the corner of the space, between the car behind and the curb.

When you see this point in the mirror, right past the body of your own car, you can straighten the wheel and continue backing into the space untill the corner of your bumper will be in line with the corner of the car in front, at which point you can turn it all the way to the other direction to push the front into the space, without hitting the car in front. Just like with the rear wheel, since you are a few feet aside from the car ahead, you can actually start steering your front into the space earlier, but keep the route of the front bumper in mind.

When squeezing into a tight space (about 15-10% longer than your car), you would be steering all the way into the space and than straight all the way to the other direction, without pausing and backing up with the wheel being straight. In general, it's always a good idea to push the front end tightly. If you find that you are about to brush against the car in front, you can just reduce the steering input rather than pull back out and perform the whole drill over again.

Applying these principles (which are well demonstrated in this video) during practice, and using all the necessary visual aids, and even getting up and around your car, will allow you to squeeze into unbelievably tight spots, with a safe ten-twelve inches from the curb, and not dents and no hitting the curb - an no undue loss of time.
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myownworld
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Joined: Jan 06, 2010
Posts: 485

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:44 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Excellent post Astraist. This is one of those skills that most new drivers struggle with, so thank you for your ever helpful advice Smile

I still find parallel parking difficult, so really valued the tips!
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DaughterOfEve
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Joined: Apr 19, 2012
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:16 am Reply with quote Back to top

Excellent post! I am not a fan of going in reverse, and even parking in most situations. Here's a tip that I have found to be useful when parking. If you are in a parking lot with spots back to back, pull through to the front spot. I have been told this is a no-no, but I do it all the time. It's the only way to get me to park correctly. Oops
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newbielearner
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Joined: Mar 27, 2012
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:37 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Parking sensors are my only hope at the moment! I don't know if I could possibly reverse without them at the moment!
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mirb7000
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Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:20 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Yeah I struggled with it too after I got my license but I still don't get parallel parking. It's a pain!
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newbielearner
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Joined: Mar 27, 2012
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:50 am Reply with quote Back to top

I swear I envy people who can park effortlessly. Esp. parallel or reverse.

I even worry about blocking traffic if I have to park on a road, not to mention all the honking behind me! Mad

Now if only it was an empty road, no cars coming down the lane and I had all the time in the world.... (sigh)
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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:16 am Reply with quote Back to top

If you follow the advice above (particularly the last section which talks specifically about parallel parking) and understand the geometry - you would all manage to get it right without any problem. You just need practice:

You can start with a computer flash game and than move on to practice in the car in between cones, cart boxes or sticks jammed into a gravel surface. Simulate two bumpers, in front and behind, and a curb about twelve inches from them, with the gap between the "cars" being about 30% longer than your own car.

Work on finding "reference points" specifically for your car: For instance, many drivers, in many cars, find that the rear triangular window is in line with the rear tire (which isn't always the case with all cars) so that when they try to parallel park they look over their shoulder and when they see the corner of the other car in their traingular window, they start turning into the space. Find the reference points suitable to your own car!

Than, find a quiet street to practice behind a car where there is a big space behind it with no other car to bump. However, treat the "big" parking space as a small one and try to park within it's limited confinments.

Also use another person to assist you from the outside and take your time to exit the car and have a look around by yourself, as well. Now, start practicing parking in between two cars and eventually you will learn to get it right, so long as you understand the geometry behind it (it is very well explained in the video I added, too).

Another piece of advice: Lean forward or look out the driver's side window (open it before you back up) to get an idea of where the front of your car ends and try to queeze the front into the tighter gap rather than push the back. That is, if you need to "saw" back and forth in the space, try not to back out very much, just back up slightly and go forward, than back slightly and forward again.
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mgrant
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Joined: Apr 25, 2012
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:54 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for the info on parallel parking. I will remember that because I have a heck of a time with it too. It takes lots and lots of practice.
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newbielearner
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Joined: Mar 27, 2012
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:46 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Astraist wrote:
If you follow the advice above (particularly the last section which talks specifically about parallel parking) and understand the geometry - you would all manage to get it right without any problem. You just need practice:

You can start with a computer flash game and than move on to practice in the car in between cones, cart boxes or sticks jammed into a gravel surface. Simulate two bumpers, in front and behind, and a curb about twelve inches from them, with the gap between the "cars" being about 30% longer than your own car.

Work on finding "reference points" specifically for your car: For instance, many drivers, in many cars, find that the rear triangular window is in line with the rear tire (which isn't always the case with all cars) so that when they try to parallel park they look over their shoulder and when they see the corner of the other car in their traingular window, they start turning into the space. Find the reference points suitable to your own car!

Than, find a quiet street to practice behind a car where there is a big space behind it with no other car to bump. However, treat the "big" parking space as a small one and try to park within it's limited confinments.

Also use another person to assist you from the outside and take your time to exit the car and have a look around by yourself, as well. Now, start practicing parking in between two cars and eventually you will learn to get it right, so long as you understand the geometry behind it (it is very well explained in the video I added, too).

Another piece of advice: Lean forward or look out the driver's side window (open it before you back up) to get an idea of where the front of your car ends and try to queeze the front into the tighter gap rather than push the back. That is, if you need to "saw" back and forth in the space, try not to back out very much, just back up slightly and go forward, than back slightly and forward again.


Hmm, this is so helpful. I like the idea of finding 'reference points for my car', as you say. Must keep all this is in mind. You're a great teacher, thanks.
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anncharles
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Joined: Apr 26, 2012
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:16 pm Reply with quote Back to top

This is extremely useful info, I also will keep what you had said in mind. Thanks for sharing this!
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