Nevada Driving Test – How to Practice Parallel Parking

In this post, we will teach you how to practice parallel parking. Most people seeking a Nevada driver’s license are fully aware that parallel parking is one component of the Nevada driving skills test. In fact, this single maneuver is what most people dread most about the driving test. Those that get “hung up” on the driving skills portion of the test also forget that 90-degree parking (aka perpendicular parking) and backing out of a parking space are also scored during the Nevada DMV driving test. In this post, we will take a look at parallel parking on the driving skills portion of the test and provide some pointers for practicing.

Parallel Parking Then and Now

Years ago, the Nevada DMV would actually have you parallel park behind a parked vehicle spotted along the driving test route. The rumor is that there were too many accidents occurring to those innocent bystander vehicles along the Las Vegas roadways, that the DMV decided to set up their own parallel parking course on site at the various Nevada DMV offices. Today, each full service Nevada DMV has a closed parallel parking course set up in or near their parking area. They can be recognized by a front set of 2-3 barrels and back set of 2-3 barrels with about 40-feet or so of space in between the sets of barrels. During your driving test, the DMV examiner will have you parallel park between the front and rear set of barrels. A passing score will have you successfully parking parallel to the curb between the barrels with no more than 18 inches from the curb. Striking a barrel is an automatic failure, as that is considered an at fault accident during your driving test.

How to Practice Parallel Parking

Perfecting your parallel parking skills takes practice. The fact is, here in Nevada, we usually don’t suffer from a lack of places to park. As such, we really don’t get much practice parallel parking like those living in San Francisco, New York or Boston.

At our Las Vegas driving school, we can usually teach new drivers how to master parallel parking in a matter of a few tries. For those of you who want to practice parallel parking on their own, we strongly recommend going to the DMV where you plan to take your driving test an practice on that DMV parallel parking course. The DMV allows for you to practice there just as long as you do so when the DMV is closed. This means you can practice all day on Sunday or during the week after 5:00 pm after all driving tests are complete.

As some people might not have much opportunity to practice at the DMV, they can easily set up a course in their own neighborhood. To do this, all you need are a couple of trash cans, large boxes or cones. I prefer trash cans because they are roughly the same size as the DMV barrels.

To set up your own course, simply find a straight curb or sidewalk and place one barrel against the curb and have the other trash can placed 10 feet away from the curb (the far edge of the trash can should be at the 10 foot mark). These two cans will represent the rear bumper of the “car” you are going to parallel park behind. You really don’t need trash cans to the rear but if you want to, set those approximately 30-40 feet behind the front cans.

Parallel Parking Basics

Those who do not take professional driving lessons sometimes aren’t aware of everything that goes into parallel parking during a Nevada DMV driving test. There really is a lot to it. For example, you are expected to use your turn signal when parallel parking – even though you are on a closed course in a back parking lot. You should also use your turn signal as you exit the spot. Secondly, while you will be expected to look over your right shoulder when backing up, you are also expected to look over your right shoulder before backing, as the front end of your vehicle will swing out to the left as you are attempting to parallel park (assuming you are doing it right!).

Parallel Parking Methods

At this point, there are a few different methods for actually maneuvering your vehicle into a parallel spot. The method we teach in our Las Vegas driving school is known as the S-Method. The following are step-by-step directions for using this method.

  1. turn your right turn signal on and pull up so that your right rear (passenger side) wheel is even with the front barrels, approximately 2 to 3 feet away. In a real life situation, the barrels would be the rear bumper of the car you intend to park behind.
  2. With your foot firmly on the brake, shift the car into reverse and turn the wheel all the way to the right.
  3. Slightly let off the break, holding the wheel all the way to the right as you back up slowly.
  4. When your vehicle is at a 45-degree angle to the left barrel (or rear bumper), stop your car completely.
  5. While stopped completely, turn the wheel all the way to the left and hold it and slowly back up until your vehicle is parallel to the curb (you should be directly behind the barrels nice and straight).

If you did everything correctly, your right side wheels should be less that 18 inches from the curb, giving you a passing score on the parallel parking portion of the Nevada driving test.

We hope this post sheds some light on the dreaded parallel parking portion of the driving skills test and helped with suggestions on how to practice parallel parking. Check back soon to learn the secrets of perpendicular parking and reversing out of parking spaces.