Driving Tips: How To Park On A Hill

Parking a car on a hill can be a tricky maneuver for drivers. Here's how to park your car on a steep incline safely.

Some of the most serious accidents involving vehicles happen when the driver is nowhere near the car. A car can fall out of gear and drift directly into traffic or strike another parked car or unwitting pedestrian. Gravity is not always a driver's best friend, and that fact becomes very apparent when parking a car on a steep grade or hill. Knowing how to properly park a car on a hill can literally save lives and property. Here's the procedure you should follow whenever your car is parked at a steep angle:

1. If at all possible, avoid parking on a hill in the first place. If you haven't exhausted all of your parking options, you may want to keep searching for a more level parking spot. Parking on a steep incline is not illegal, but it does put added stresses on a vehicle. Ask yourself if parking on this particular hill is strictly necessary. If you have no other choice, then you must prepare to take some extra steps before leaving your car.

2. Park your car normally, within the boundaries of the designated parking space. Turn your front wheels towards the curb or outer edge of the road-do not leave the wheels facing forward. The philosophy behind turning your wheels inward has to do with gravity and steering. If the car should fall out of gear accidentally or the brakes fail, gravity will pull the car down the hill. Momentum will take over and the car will gain speed. By the time it reaches the bottom of the hill, it will be an unstoppable 2,000 pound wrecking machine. The only force which can stop a rolling car is an immovable object, i.e. a tree, building or another vehicle. By turning the front wheels towards the curb, the car will be steered naturally to the side and the momentum will be stopped. A car facing sideways is less likely to continue speeding down a hill.



3. Apply your parking brake after pointing the wheels. Your car's transmission should provide some protection against rolling, but any number of things can happen to send it out of gear. By applying the parking brake, you're giving your car a secondary line of defense against rolling. Be sure to disengage the parking brake before driving off. A steady 'brake' light should appear somewhere on the driver's panel if the brake is still applied. You may not be able to tell from simply driving the car.

4. If you're driving a standard shift car, you'll need to be even more cautious on a hill. Before leaving a car with manual transmission parked on a hill, be sure the car is in gear and the parking brake is fully engaged. Children are sometimes tempted to pull manual shift cars out of gear while playing 'race car driver'. Never leave a child unattended in a standard shift car, especially when parked on a steep grade.

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