DETROIT – I turn on my flashers. I shift into reverse. I turn the steering wheel to the left as I lightly press the gas.
Uh oh. Let me try this again.
I shift back into drive for a fresh start.
Meanwhile, the drivers behind me are losing patience, and the pedestrians on the sidewalk are slowing their steps to turn their attention my way.
The pressure is building.
Unless there is ample room to maneuver my way in, I hate parallel parking, especially in front of an audience.
According to a 2020 survey conducted by the insurance comparison site The Zebra, nearly half of Americans have parallelophobia, or the fear of parallel parking.
The survey found that drivers fear holding up traffic and hitting another car.
Northeasterners are the most confident about parallel parking and Midwesterners are the least confident, according to the survey.
The driving skills test in Michigan requires competency of parallel parking. But there was a push to change that requirement.
House Bill 4576, introduced by Rep. Sarah Lightner in 2019, stated, “The Secretary of State shall not require an applicant for an operator’s license to demonstrate proficiency in the skill of parallel parking to successfully complete a driving skills test.”
The bill never made it out of the Committee on Transportation.
There are several states that don’t assess parallel parking skills, including Ohio.
Nevada eliminated parallel parking from its skills test in 2020.
At the time, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles predicted the change would reduce the number of people needing to retake the skills test for failing the parallel parking component.
In 2021, Washington D.C. reversed course and returned to requiring drivers to demonstrate parallel parking competency.
“Parallel parking is a necessary driving skill and is essential to protecting pedestrians, cyclists, and property. It is an important skill to learn and does require practice,” the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles said in its newsletter.
And practice is what I’m going to keep doing to master parallel parking. I’m just going to do it when there’s no one around to see it.
If you want to brush up on your parallel parking skills, take a look at page 37 of the state’s driver manual: “What Every Driver Must Know.”