The AA Driving School found in a survey that 16% of motorists aren’t confident with parallel parking, while 19% change their plans because they can’t park in the spaces available, as they don’t have the skills or confidence to do it. On top of this, more female motorists than male motorists say they aren’t confident about the maneuver – at 25% of women compared to 11% of men. Female drivers are twice as likely as male drivers to change their plans because of parallel parking – at 28% to 14%.
The survey also found that the least confident drivers in regard to parallel parking live in the east of England, at 21%. On the other hand, the most confident parallel parkers are in London, at 14%. The motorists most likely to change their plans due to the maneuver are in the north-east, at 21%. About 25% of drivers have also blacklisted roads if they find the parking too hard to maneuver, while 29% have blacklisted specific car parks for this very reason. Drivers in the east, south-east, Wales and Scotland are the most likely to do this, with 30% saying they have.
AA Driving School managing director Jim Kirkwood says that parking issues are causing unnecessary headaches for a lot of drivers in the UK. Motorists are staying away from certain car parks and roads because they don’t think they have the skills to park there, highlighting a gap that can be addressed easily. Having to change their plans at the last minute to avoid such issues can also be addressed. Drivers shouldn’t feel like there’s no hope for them, as most can overcome their driving issues with little guidance and tuition from a professional.
Free Drive Confident courses are offered through the AA Charitable Trust to qualified motorists who believe their skills are rusty, or to those in need of a boost in confidence. A qualified instructor from the AA Driving School will help them address any problem they may be having on the road – from parking issues to being afraid of travelling on the motorway.
Meanwhile, this survey from the AA Driving School follows research that suggests men are better at reading maps, as well as parking, due to how their brains function. The difference means they are better at picturing 3-D images in their head. Figures from the Official Driving Standard Agency (DSA) showed last year that 170,000 women didn’t pass their driving exam because they didn’t use their mirrors or made mistakes reversing. Nearly 33% of these drivers became frazzled when it came to parallel parking.
However, AA head of road safety Andrew Howard says he’s not totally convinced that the difference in spatial awareness is the explanation. He says learners of both genders are given the same skills – parallel parking, starting on a hill, carrying out forward and reverse parking, reversing around a corner, turning in the road and making an emergency stop – but the tester only chooses three of these. Some drivers may pass the test in one car, but drive another that they aren’t as comfortable maneuvering in. The parking element of the test also doesn’t equate to real life, as the testers don’t choose tight spaces. New drivers may avoid parallel parking because it makes them nervous, he added, which then makes them out of practice.