You are not alone if the notion of parallel parking causes you to break out in a cold sweat. It can be stressful whether you’re attempting to pass your state’s driving test or trying to nab the final parking place on a busy street. Parallel parking, like other difficult driving skills, becomes easier with practice, yet an increasing number of drivers disregard this ability as unimportant. And, inexperienced drivers in certain U.S. states may be able to doze off during this portion of driver’s education and still pass the driving test.
Michigan is the most recent state to consider removing parallel parking from the list of driver’s license requirements. House Bill 4576 was introduced by Republican Representative Sarah Lightner on May 9. The representative informed media sites in the Detroit region that she introduced the bill after getting complaints from voters who were dissatisfied that they spent $50 on the state driving test only to fail because of a skill they deemed unnecessary or extraneous.
“The Secretary of State shall not require an applicant for an operator’s license to demonstrate competency in the skill of parallel parking in order to pass a driving skills test,” the law declares.
Rep. Lightner’s office told HowStuffWorks, “The premise behind the measure is that parallel parking abilities are crucial and are taught throughout driver’s education, yet few Michigan drivers are often in situations that necessitate parallel parking.” “The feedback has been mixed, but it has sparked a terrific dialogue about the current abilities required to operate a vehicle safely.”
In May of 2019, sixteen states did not require a driver’s license applicant to demonstrate parallel parking proficiency, writes Rob Stumpf for The Drive. Now, Michigan is reviving a debate that has been dormant for some time. In 2015, Maryland was the most recent state to eliminate parallel parking from its driver’s exam.
Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming have also abandoned the skill. In the case of Maryland, as reported by NPR and USA Today in 2015, the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration deemed it unnecessary to continue including parallel parking on the test, as the skills required are nearly identical to those required for other portions of the test, such as a reverse two-point turn. Critics stated at the time that the state’s intentions were to both speed up the test and reduce the number of drivers who had to retake it; same worries are shared by critics of the proposed legislation in Michigan. According to NPR, there was also a great deal of public opposition, primarily from elder state residents who remarked on internet news articles that it was unjust that younger drivers would have an easier driving test.
So, what happens to drivers who theoretically study parallel parking but never grasp the skill? Thanks to parking lots, parking garages, angled street parking spots, and valet parking, this obstacle is easily circumvented in a number of locales. Moreover, if you drive a newer vehicle, it likely incorporates at least some technological aids. Some automakers refer to these safety systems as “advanced” or “active,” while others refer to them as “driver aids” or “driver assistance.” The newer and more expensive the vehicle, the more probable it is that these technologies will be sold as “semi-autonomous” or “self-parking” technology.
These features, according to AAA, include:
- Back-up cameras
- Multi-angle cameras
- Front and rear parking sensors that detect nearby obstructions.
- Side sensors that alert the driver when they are approaching the curb
- Devices that assist in locating a parking space that can accommodate the vehicle.
- Technologies that partially (driver assistance) or fully (parking assist) direct the vehicle into the parking space.
Someday, individuals will ride in fully driverless vehicles that require less time in a parking space, according to a report by Deloitte.
Although Lightner informed media outlets in the Detroit region that parallel parking is “becoming an outmoded practice,” her office warned HowStuffWorks that the measure should not be taken as a replacement for actual driving abilities. According to Lightner’s office, driver-support systems were included in the bill’s considerations, but the bill was not crafted with the idea of drivers relying on parking assist systems in mind.
In general, jurisdictions that have ceased testing parallel parking nevertheless require first-time drivers to undergo a driver’s education course, which includes teaching on parallel parking.
Even though the states that have discontinued parallel parking tests did not do so because to the availability of new technology, it seems inevitable that such technology will eventually replace parking skills. After all, if state representatives introduce legislation based on the feedback of their constituents, and if those constituents become increasingly accustomed to relatively basic features such as backup cameras and parking sensors, as well as more advanced technology such as parking assist systems that actively steer the vehicle, then it’s easy to see where this is headed.
As for Michigan, where numerous automakers are releasing these new features as rapidly as can, we’ll see if other legislators concur with Lightner. The bill must be approved by both chambers of the Michigan legislature and signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer for it to become law. Like other states that have approved similar rules, parallel parking would still be taught in driver’s education courses in Michigan.