Parking a vehicle means stopping and leaving it somewhere. It is important to make sure that the vehicle is parked somewhere where parking is allowed, otherwise the driver may have to pay a fine, or even worse, the vehicle may be clamped. Cars are usually parked in driveways, parking lots, garages, or on the side of the street.
Parking a car is easier than parking a large vehicle such as a lorry (truck) or a coach. These large vehicles often have to go to special parks. Rules about parking are part of traffic rules, and these will vary a lot from one country to another.
Places to park [change]
On the road [change]
Vehicles can often be parked at the side of the road, parallel to the curb (the edge of the pavement or sidewalk). Sometimes there are no : one can park there, free, for as long as one likes. In other places parking may not be allowed at all (e.g. where there are double yellow lines (in Britain) or it may be allowed only for limited periods. Drivers may have to pay to park. Money can either be put in parking meters which are to be found by every parking bay, or there may be a machine nearby where the driver has to pay, and then he receives a ticket which he has to leave inside the car to show that he has paid. The time and date of arrival will be printed on the ticket.
If a driver does not pay, or he stays longer than he is allowed, he may be given a parking ticket by a traffic warden. These wardens have the job of patrolling the streets and finding any cars which are illegally parked. In some cities the cars may be clamped. This means that a heavy clamp is fixed to one of the wheels so that the car cannot be driven away. The driver then has to phone the clamping firm and arrange for them to unlock the clamp. This will cost a lot of money. A third possibility is that the car may be . This means that it is lifted by a crane onto a lorry and taken away. It costs a lot of money to get one’s car back.
In a car park [change]
Car parks (in America: “parking lots”) are large spaces where one can leave one’s car. A car park can be a large space of land. It can also be a large building with several storeys. This is called a parking garage. Usually there are machines where one has to pay and then display a ticket inside the car. With multi-storey car parks the driver usually pays as he drives out, or he pays at a machine where the ticket is “validated”. He then puts the validated ticket into the machine at the exit, the barrier goes up and he can drive off.
Another type of car park, called an "attendant car park" is one where the driver leaves the car keys with an attendant. The attendant will then drive the car and park it so that all the cars are bunched up close to one another. This saves space. This type of car park is common at airports. The driver can tell the attendant when he expects to be back.
Cars are usually parked side by side in a car park.
Some car parks are private car parks. They can only be used by people who are visiting the hotel, store or firm to whom the car park belongs. People who park there illegally may find that their vehicle gets clamped.
Disabled parking [change]
Every car park, whether it is a public or a private car park, has to have a few spaces that are reserved for disabled people. These spaces are usually conveniently near the exit of the car park or near the entrance of the store, hotel, restaurant etc. The disabled bays are usually wider than ordinary bays so that the vehicle doors can be opened wide for the disabled person to get out. It is important to display a valid disabled badge in the car.
The technique of parking a vehicle [change]
When driving along a road the driver may see a space big enough for him to park his vehicle. He needs to park carefully. First he should check in the mirror whether anything is close behind him. He should stop just after he has passed the space, alongside the next car, then reverse (go backwards) slowly in, aiming towards the curb, then turning the steering wheel so that he just misses the car in front. Then he can adjust, leaving equal room between the two cars. If the space is wide enough for two cars he can drive forwards into the space instead of reversing in. This helps him to get out of the way of traffic coming up behind him.
Wherever one parks, it is very important to make sure that the vehicle is not in anyone’s way. The vehicle must not cause an obstruction, i.e. it must not be in the way of traffic, or obstruct somebody’s driveway. It should not be parked somewhere where it might be dangerous such as on a corner.