Choosing the Best Parking Space: How to and Why Should You Even CareUpdated Nov. 20, 2020
Choosing the right place to park is arguably just as important as mastering parking maneuvers. There is so much more to safe parking than selecting the first likely-looking spot that comes along!
The parking space you choose will depend heavily on your experience level as a driver. Very new learners would be foolish to opt for a tight parking spot when bigger spaces are available nearby. Whereas the size of the parking spot may have little relevance for more experienced drivers, who are more concerned with location or the security of their vehicle.
Convenience, parking restrictions, space, safety and security are all issues you must consider when finding an appropriate place to park. We discuss each of these factors below.
Whether or not any parking restrictions apply to your prospective parking spot should be the first thing you consider. Parking is illegal in some areas to maximize public safety and convenience. Either way, parking in a restricted area will probably land you a parking ticket.
Parking regulations vary a little state-by-state, so you must check your state’s own driver's manual for local information. In general, parking is not permitted on or near intersections, on sidewalks or crosswalks, near fire hydrants or anywhere that would block emergency service vehicles. Many no parking zones are marked with a “NO PARKING” sign, which may have arrows indicating in which area relative to the sign you cannot park. You will also encounter restricted areas where the curb is painted yellow or red.
How close to the entrance?
We are all keen to score a parking space as close as possible to the entrance of the building we are visiting. Though, is it really worth saving yourself a short walk? Parking in a high vehicle and pedestrian traffic area close to a building’s entrance puts your car more at risk of being scratched or damaged.
Parking close to a shopping cart return area might seem like a smart idea but we guarantee you it is not. Careless shoppers often roll their carts in the general direction of the cart return, without stopping to see if it ends up in the right place. Cars parked directly beside the cart return area are bound to get bumped by shopping carts at least a couple of times a day. Protect your paintwork by parking at a safe distance and walking your cart back to the return zone.
How large is the spot?
Choosing a spacious parking spot will be a primary concern for newer drivers who are still finding their feet with parking maneuvers. Parking will be easier when you have gained some experience, but this does not mean you can squeeze your vehicle into a ridiculously tight space and get away with it. Even if you are skilled enough to maneuver your car into a cramped space between two vehicles without incident, there is no guarantee it will be safe there while you go about your business. The drivers of the vehicles parked to either side of your car may not take due care when opening their doors or driving out of their spaces.
As a novice driver, your top priority should be choosing a spacious parking spot away from hazards and obstructions. As you get accustomed to the size of your vehicle and the way it handles, you can start choosing parking spaces with a little more attention to the convenience of the location.
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