The state of Maryland has removed parallel parking from the driver test. Good. Because it’s pointless, takes up too much time, and people don’t die going 2 MPH.

Now let me make this abundantly clear up front: People need to learn how to parallel park. It’s something you must do to survive in this world. But there’s absolutely no reason it should be tested by the DMV.

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First, the driving test is short. Most states have tests that last maybe 20 minutes, but more like 10 to 15.

During that time the examiner has to test the driver’s ability to assess their surroundings, accelerate, brake and steer smoothly, perform lane changes, make left, right, u- and three-point-turns, avoid pedestrians, bicyclists, and rogue 4 year olds, get on and off the freeway, and all the other flotsam and jetsam that drivers face every single day. And in Maryland, they also have to reverse into a parking space.

There is no way that an examiner can accurately test all of those things in a 15-minute span, and when you throw in parallel parking, even more valuable time is wasted on something that should’ve been taught to begin with.

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It’s not the state’s responsibility to ensure that driver’s can parallel park – it’s the new driver’s parent or sibling or instructor or whoever is teaching them.

People have a tendency to conflate teaching and testing. These are two separate things. In most states, drivers under the age of 18 need to get a minimum of 50 hours of instruction from family or friends – along with the mandatory six hours from an instructor – before they can take the driving test. During the 56-or-so hours is when parallel parking should be taught. Not during the test. And an instructor in Maryland agrees.

“I’m actually in favor of [removing parallel parking from the test],” David Resnick, the owner of Elite Driving School, told the Washington Post. “We have a lot of parents who want us to make sure we spend a lot of time on parallel parking and make it a focus of a large portion of behind-the-wheel training. Our response is, nobody dies [while] parallel parking. We want to work on entering and exiting expressways and focus on more dangerous maneuvers.”

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When states decide to include parallel parking in the test, they’re not only wasting valuable examination time, but they’re putting would-be drivers into a traffic-less vacuum that doesn’t exist. They’re asked to parallel park, not between other cars, but using cones. And time apparently stops. They have a few minutes to complete the maneuver, but don’t have to deal with visibility issues or accessing the size or the asshat in a pickup truck honking and screaming out his window for you to get into the damn space already. It’s a fantasy world of the DMV’s own making and it’s the complete opposite of the real world.

So good on Maryland. There aren’t many states that require parallel parking on tests and the more that drop it the more time examiners will have to actually see if someone can drive rather than focusing on a single skill that should’ve been taught before they ever arrived at the DMV.


Contact the author at damon@jalopnik.com.
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