It’s no secret that large vehicles behave differently than smaller vehicles. However, if you attempt to park in a spot or parking lot designed for vehicles of a more standard size, you must exercise extreme caution with your large vehicle or truck. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to other parked cars. It’s a good thing that some fundamental parking rules can help prevent this from happening.
Method 1 Pulling Large Vehicles into a Parking Spot
1. Before you park, double-check your mirrors. Poorly adjusted mirrors may cause you to lose perspective while parking. This can impair your ability to judge the distance between your vehicles and any obstacles. You’ll want to have a clear and complete view of the area around your vehicle.
Even if you are more confident in your parking abilities, you should always double check your blind spots to avoid backing into children, pedestrians, or moving objects such as strollers and shopping carts.
Larger vehicles may have an additional mirror mounted to the vehicle’s body to improve visibility. These additional mirrors are easily overlooked by inexperienced large vehicle drivers. When parking, keep an eye on these.
2. Allow yourself plenty of room. The more space you have to pull into your parking spot, the more space you’ll have to manoeuvre and adjust while parking. You could save space by parking in an empty section of a parking lot, or you could choose a spot surrounded by smaller, more compact vehicles.
Smaller vehicles on either side of your large truck will take up less space in their own parking spot, giving you more room to manoeuvre while parking.
3. Slowly park and apply the brakes early. Because of the increased weight of a large vehicle, you must brake sooner than you would in a normal car, especially if you are transporting a heavy load. Taking your time when parking your large vehicle can save you money by avoiding costly mistakes such as damaging cars around you or hitting a parking barrier.
4. Draw in to wide open spaces. If you are unsure about your ability to park a large vehicle, this is probably the safest option. Choose a parking spot that is free of other vehicles. To move into the spot, cut your wheel in the direction you’re turning.
You might notice your front end swinging over the parking spot lines and into the space next to you. This is because larger vehicles require a larger turning radius to complete turns.
After pulling into your space, you may need to adjust your vehicle. Back up your vehicle after checking your mirrors and blind spots.
When you return to your parking spot after backing out, adjust your wheel to straighten out your vehicle as you pull back into the spot.
5. Avoid undercutting or overshooting your turn. Because of the length of your large vehicle, you will need to spend more time turning in order to straighten it out and pull it evenly into its spot. Turning as you would in a regular car can result in overturning or underturning, potentially into other vehicles. To avoid this, you should move your vehicle as far away from the parking spot as possible. The more room you have to approach, the easier it will be to straighten your back end and pull into position.
Cut your wheel sharply in the direction of the parking spot. You’ll want your truck’s front end to enter the spot as straight as possible.
While pulling into your parking spot, keep an eye on your mirrors. The side of your vehicle may still be straightening, and you’ll need to keep an eye out to avoid hitting or scratching other vehicles.
6. Make a three-point turn to straighten out your vehicle. The more aligned your back end is with the parking spot you want to use, the less turning you’ll have to do and the easier your parking job will be. A three-point turn is when you turn in one direction as far as you can, reverse your vehicle to straighten your front end, and then continue your turn. You can use this while parking by pulling your front end close to one of the vehicles next to your parking spot.
Putting your vehicle in reverse and straightening it as much as possible to line up with your parking spot. Check your mirrors and blind spots to avoid hitting any pedestrians or cars parked behind you.
7. Pull into your spot evenly after making a three-point turn. Because your car is now more aligned with the spot, you should only have to make minor adjustments to your course as you pull into it. When driving a large vehicle, being able to execute this manoeuvre in tight spaces is a valuable skill, so you should practise how to make a three-point turn.
Method 2 Backing Large Vehicles into a Parking Spot
1. Determine your backing up technique. There are four types of backing up manoeuvres you may encounter while driving a large vehicle: straight back, offset back, alley dock, and parallel parking. The following characteristics distinguish each of these:
Straight back spots are typically laid out in a grid and form a perpendicular (L-shaped) angle with the traffic passage that vehicles use to enter or exit the parking area.
Offset back spaces are typically laid out in an offset grid. These intersect the traffic path used by vehicles to enter and exit the parking area at a diagonal angle.
Alley docks are almost always used by semi-trucks. These necessitate moving straight back through a narrow passage and then turning sharply to manoeuvre the trailer to meet a loading/unloading dock, which is usually at a right angle (L-shape) to the passage.
Parallel parking spaces are located on the side of the road, with either traffic, obstacles, or empty spaces preceding or following the spot. These require you to back your vehicle in and can be particularly difficult. If at all possible, new drivers should avoid these.
2. Understand the principles of backing up. This will be slightly different for semi-trucks/vehicles towing a trailer as opposed to large, normal trucks with a bed attached to the cab. While large, attached-bed trucks turn similarly to smaller vehicles, they will require plenty of extra space to complete the turn. Semi-trucks and vehicles towing trailers will turn backwards in the opposite direction that you turn your wheel.
It takes time and practise to get the hang of backing up a semi-truck/vehicle with a trailer. To get a feel for how your trailer responds to turning, find an empty parking lot and practise reverse manoeuvres.
If you are preparing for a driving test or anticipate having to reverse your large vehicle into a parking space, you should buy some traffic cones from your local hardware store or set up some obstacles, such as a cheap folding chair, in an empty parking lot. You can practise avoiding and guiding your trailer/rear end around obstacles this way.
3. Pull ahead of your parking spot. You should pull several feet ahead of your parking spot to ensure that your turn isn’t too sharp and hits parked vehicles on the near side, or swings too wide and hits vehicles on the far side. The greater the distance between your large vehicle and the parked cars, the more time you will have to straighten your rear-end before approaching the parked cars. This extra space can mean the difference between scraping another car and sliding into your parking spot without incident.
Roll down your vehicle’s mirrors on both the driver and passenger sides. You want as clear and unobstructed a view of your mirrors as possible. This is especially important if it is raining, as raindrops can distort or obstruct your view.
Request that all passengers exit the vehicle. When backing up, even well-behaved passengers can make it difficult to see around. A clear line of sight will assist you in avoiding potential damage to your vehicle or the vehicles of others.
4. Examine your mirrors and take a walk-around. Your mirrors should give you a general idea of the dimensions of the parking space you’ll be using. Mirrors, on the other hand, can sometimes distort distance or miss important features, such as thin metal signs, posts, and so on. Step outside your vehicle after taking note of your surroundings in your mirrors. Then, compare your walk-around assessment of the parking area to your mirror image. Take note of any inconsistencies, difficult-to-see obstacles, or overlooked obstacles.
Consider the size of the parking space. If you suspect that the parking spot isn’t a good fit for you, or if you’re concerned about your ability to park, you’re probably better off looking for another spot.
When you get back into your car, check your mirrors. Now that you have a better understanding of the parking area, you can adjust your mirrors to provide a better view of the surrounding area you will be turning into. Because your mirrors are normally positioned for straight-ahead driving, adjusting them for a better parking view can be extremely beneficial.
5. Swing your cab out wide. You should swing your front-end in an outward arc away from your parking spot by cutting your wheel in the direction of the parking spot for attached-bed trucks as well, but especially for semi-trucks/vehicles with trailers. This will allow your vehicle’s rear end to cut sharply in the direction of the parking space you are attempting to park in. When your rear-end is angled diagonally into the spot, straighten it by turning your wheel 14 turns or less away from the spot.
The more space there is between you and the already parked vehicles/obstacles surrounding the parking spot you are attempting to park in, the more time you will have to align your rear end with the parking spot. This will give you more room to make minor adjustments and guide your rear-end into position.
You should only make minor adjustments while backing up, aside from your initial hard cut in the direction of the parking spot, which started the hard turn of your rear-end toward the spot. Large changes will almost certainly result in over- or under-steering. If you feel your approach angle is too steep, you should back out and try again.
During these manoeuvres, you should keep a close eye on your vehicle’s front and rear ends. While swinging your cab out wide to angle your rear-end into the spot, it’s easy to swing out into cars parked in spots opposite the one you’re backing into.
6. Make sure your cab is in good shape. Your cab will most likely be at an angle to the spot once your rear end is aligned with it. Allow your rear end to travel a few more feet into the spot, then turn your wheel in the same direction you made your first hard cut – toward the spot. This should start straightening out your cab without changing the angle of your back end. At this point, use gentle steering corrections; oversteering may result in a significant change in the angle of your trailer/rear-end.
Some spots are too narrow or at too sharp an angle to back into in a single attempt. Even experienced large vehicle drivers may require several attempts before their vehicle is in the proper position when backing into a parking space.
Make any necessary adjustments to your vehicle. You may need to back out of your parking spot, straighten your vehicle again, and then reverse back into it smoothly. When pulling out, make sure your rear-end does not cut short or wide into oncoming traffic.
Method 3 Parking Large Vehicles Safely
1. Use the designated large vehicle parking spaces. Many main route establishments, particularly rest stops and designated “trucker” stops, will have special parking spaces reserved for large vehicles such as semis and moving trucks. Keep an eye out for these types of parking spots, as they will make your job much easier.
Some semi-trucks can require up to four times the space required by a standard-sized car.
You should plan your route ahead of time so that you know where you can easily park while on your trip. A few well-known websites that provide extensive resources on highway information are:
2. Understand the legal requirements for large vehicles. There are laws in place to prevent this from happening because your large vehicle can block the view of smaller vehicles and sometimes create a dangerous blind spot on the road. These laws vary by state and country, but in general, you should never:
Unless your vehicle is disabled, park on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph (48 kph).
Park in such a way that the view of the road from driveways and other streets is obscured.
Park your vehicle in the opposite direction of traffic.
3. The emergency signal is turned off shortly after it is activated. When you are forced to stop on the side of the road due to mechanical problems or other issues, you must install emergency warning devices no later than ten minutes after stopping. Different types of roads will necessitate different placement of your warning devices, such as: on or near a one-way street or a divided highway, you must place your warning devices at 10, 100, and 200 feet (3, 30.5, and 61 m) behind your vehicle, respectively.
On a two-lane road with traffic moving in either direction, or on an undivided highway, place warning devices 10 feet (3 metres) in front of and behind the front and rear corners of your vehicle, and 100 feet (30.5 metres) ahead of and behind your vehicle.
When there are bends, curves, or hills that obstruct the view of your warning devices, position your rearmost device so that it can be clearly seen before the sight obstruction.
4. Perform a physical inspection of potential parking spots. Smaller parking lots and residential areas are designed to accommodate smaller vehicles. Stepping out of your vehicle and taking in your surroundings is the best way to gauge the size of these areas.
If at all possible, use a spotter to guide you as you move into the spot safely.
5. Always take advantage of your parking break. Larger vehicles are significantly heavier than the average sedan. If your vehicle’s brakes failed completely, its weight would make it even more dangerous to others if it began to roll. You can easily avoid this by always using your parking break as an extra safety precaution.
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