Lesson 9: Back Up and Park Like a Pro
Experienced drivers know the frustration of trying to fit into a tight parking space, only to have to stop, back up and try again at a different angle. This may seem like a typical driving experience, but it has the potential to improve your teen’s driving habits and safety. Here’s what you can do to help your teen hone these skills.
Learning to park means getting a sense of the length and width of the car, as well as how it turns and responds in different scenarios. This knowledge comes in especially handy when parking, turning or changing lanes, and it can open up your new driver’s eyes to how much space he or she has on the road. Once your teen gets a better sense of a vehicle’s size, navigating safely around pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles becomes much easier.
Parking lessons are also great opportunities for your teen to practice backing up safely. This can be a challenging task for teens in a driveway, and it becomes much more dangerous in parking lots crowded with pedestrians and antsy drivers. The goal is to help your teen hone this skill in a stress-free environment, so be patient and avoid busy parking lots at first. Encourage your teen to go slow, adjust the mirrors as needed, and look over his or her shoulders to back out safely. Having your teen try and back into a parking spot is a great way to take this skill to another level.
Practice: Go to an empty parking area and pick out a good spot. Have your teen pull into it, getting as close as he or she thinks is appropriate to the curb and the lines, and shift into park. Then, have your teen get out and see the results. Your new driver may be surprised at how far back or off to one side the car is, or how many tries it takes to line it up in the spot. Practice parking and backing up in different scenarios, including garages and parking lots with angled spots, so your teen gets a good feel for maneuvering the vehicle while watching for pedestrians.