Real Life Reasons to Turn your Wheels when Parking on a Hill

Every time someone comes to me and says, “Teach me how to park on a hill. I need to pass the road test,” it makes me cry!!

No one needs to learn how to park on a hill in order to pass the road test. Ok, maybe you do. But please, think about the reasons why you are being forced to learn these things. It is Not just to make your driving examiner happy. When your parking brake fails or your transmission slips into neutral at 3 AM, and your car rolls into your living room (yes, this happened in West Vancouver a few years ago, and I’m sure other instances as well), will you still be glad you learned how to park on a hill for the road test, and then forgot all about it?

Like any other driving technique, the only way to avoid the collision, disaster, or otherwise unwanted outcome, is through active, deliberate and conscious prevention. We can not see accidents about to happen, and then think about some methods to avoid them, pick the best one, and then take the steps to carry out our plan. By that time, the collision will have already occurred, and the sun will be setting on the horizon.  You must prevent accidents, and almost-accidents, before they happen; and the way you do that is through proper training and education.

Read this CBC News Article about a 2012 BMW that Rolled away all by Itself!

Read This Post Explaining How to Park on a Hill

Parking on a steep driveway presents unique challenges.

If you have to chose between having your car roll into an intersection, off a cliff, or into your bedroom, which one would you pick?

In cases where it wouldn’t matter which way you turned the wheels on a steep driveway (your car would either roll into your neighbours on the left or the neighbours on the right) then perhaps you’ve done all you can. Is it better to keep the wheels straight in that case? Where would the car roll if it went straight? Would it roll across a road? Across an intersection? Would it roll into a tree? Do you have the option of parking your car at the bottom of your driveway, where it is flat? Do you care enough to consider that option?  These are all good questions you should think about.

Remember that cars, houses and property have insurance, or at least do not have feelings and can most of the time be replaced. We can not say the same for people’s lives.

If you’re not sure you’re on a hill or not, because the road looks sort of flat but you aren’t quite sure, stick your car into Neutral for a bit and slowly release your foot from the brake (make sure it’s safe around the vehicle before doing this). If the car rolls at all, then that’s the direction it will start rolling in the case of mechanical failure. Even on small, seemingly insignificant inclines, it is worthwhile to set your wheels. Vehicles are heavy and can gather momentum on rather innocent-looking types of hills.


Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada.

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