Parking safely and securely

Parking well can save you money and keep you safe. Here are a few tips for getting it right.

Forward or reverse?

You might find it easier to drive straight into a space, but there are advantages to reversing in:

  • Safer– it's safer to reverse into a space you can see than reversing out into moving traffic that you can't see clearly. Also, as you start driving you might not be concentrating fully so starting with a trickier manoeuvre is higher risk
  • Cheaper– reversing when your car is cold uses around 20 to 25% more fuel in the first few seconds. If you reverse in while the engine is warm, you can improve fuel efficiency and reduce wear and tear on your engine
  • More secure– if you reverse close to an object like a wall, it can make it harder for thieves to get access to your boot. And if you need to leave quickly, you'll get better acceleration and a clearer vision by going out forwards.

Make reverse parking easier

If you lower the left (nearside) wing mirror, this will give you a guide to your position.

If you're parking in a car park with parallel rows, line your car up with the space in front if there's room and reverse back straight. This should put you in the centre of the space.

  • Keep a close eye on where you're going
  • Check over your shoulder and your mirrors
  • Don't feel pressurised by anyone waiting – do it at your own pace

Parking on hills

If you park on a hill, you should:

  • park close to the kerb and apply the handbrake
  • if you're facing uphill, put the car in a forward gear and turn your steering wheel away from the curb
  • if you're facing downhill, put the car in reverse and turn your steering wheel towards the curb
  • use 'park' if your car is automatic

This way if your car does move then it should run into the curb and not into traffic.

Try technology

Using simple sensors can prevent one of those dings that cost you hundreds of pounds. For between £50 and £200 you can buy a kit which usually contains 4 sensors and fits into the rear bumper. Some new cars now come with these already fitted.

Keep your car secure

Cars with immobilisers are safer than those without one – so get one fitted if you haven't already.

You should aim to park your car in a secure place like a locked garage or a guarded or police-approved car park. Failing that, choose a well-lit parking space on a road with plenty of other cars and continuous traffic.

If you can, park in the view of CCTV cameras. To find a good spot, visit the Park Mark website.

Wherever you stop, be sensible:

  • don't leave the car running with the keys in the engine
  • lock all doors
  • remove all valuables from sight, including satnavs
  • set the alarm

See if there is any car crime in your neighbourhood by checking the police crime map.

Avoid tickets

Did you know there are more than 40 reasons to be issued with a parking ticket?

Police, traffic wardens and parking attendants issue more than 8 million penalty charge notices a year, so avoid getting ticketed by:

  • checking signs when you park up
  • using pay and display where you need to
  • putting blue badge or similar relevant exemption notices in clear view
  • knowing the The Highway Code

If you do get a ticket and think you have been unfairly treated then it's worth appealing - as many as 65% of appeals are upheld and the fines withdrawn.

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