Judging distance when driving past parked cars

    • Thread Starter

    I've been learning to drive and have become fairly good at changing gears, steering and nearly mastered the manoeuvres. However, I still struggle when driving down/up narrow roads with cars parked on either side. I can't naturally judge the distance and the instructor has to help with the minor steering movements for me. Has anyone else faced the problem and any tips. It's annoying as I'm getting better at everything else but this.


    Do you mean when you're steering around the parked cars? Like before you overtake them?
    Or driving past rows of parked cars whilst oncoming vehicles are coming?

    I had this problem too when i first started out. What i did was whenever i got a bit of a quiet road i would drive really slowly (maybe 20mph) but also really closely to the parked cars.

    This way you will build up spatial memory and you will begin to get a feel for how much space you actually have and what the limits are. Eventually it will become natural.

    Posted from TSR Mobile

    This is something I was also terrible at when I was learning. You get better at it with experience and begin to 'feel' where your car is so to speak. Nowadays I'm always squeezing through narrow gaps easily because I've developed that spacial awareness and I know how big my car is. Just takes a bit of time but it wasn't an issue by the time I was half way through my lessons.

    Next time you are at the supermarket and pushing your trolley into a narrow gap between parked cars, notice how your eyes move around to judge the gap.

    As you approach the gap and begin to wonder if it's big enough for your trolley, you start to look at right corner, and the left, and the right again, and so on. The more you alternate your gaze from one side to the other, your brain is trying to keep both sides of your trolley equidistant from the hazards on both sides.

    So back to driving, if you never look at the corner or edge of your car relative to the edge of the hazard you're about to pass, you'll never know how close you're getting. Your instructor should have already analysed this (sadly, many don't) but you will have to glance at your nearside door mirror to check your distance as you're passing. You're not so much looking in the mirror glass, as looking at the edge of the mirror housing to see how much gap there is between your mirror and the car you're at risk of clipping.

    As 2710 suggested, try this initially at low speed (but not deliberately close to the cars) until you build up confidence and your safety margin. Ideally, you should allow at least the width of a car door (imagine the parked car's door wide open) so that a pedestrian could walk around their car without being squashed.

    There might be occasions (such as the presence of oncoming traffic) where this isn't always possible, so reduce speed and remember "less space, less pace". You must still be driving in a manner where you can safely avoid a door opening suddenly or a pedestrian walking around their parked car into the road. If you cannot steer away to avoid the hazard (because of oncoming traffic) then you must be able to stop in time if necessary.

    Final tip about oncoming traffic: You can afford to get slightly closer to oncoming traffic than you can to parked vehicles. Oncoming cars have steering ability and can steer out of your way if needed, but parked cars cannot.
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