On the beat: 06/30

Parallel parking could be kaput

By Jim Bucher

This is the biggest news since the return of the Twinkie. OK, maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s pretty darn close.

This affects all of us who have a child at or near the driving age.

The dreaded parallel parking portion of the driver’s license exam could go the way of the horse and buggy. Well, at least in Maryland.

According to recent reports, Maryland has announced that demonstrating an ability to parallel park—an impossible skill to master for a lot of motorists, including this one, who’s been driving umpteen years now and have the scuffed tires and scratched rims to prove it—is no longer a requirement for getting a driver’s license in the state.

Well, bust my bumper. Say it ain’t so.

Everybody knows someone who can’t parallel park. The space could be 12 feet long, yet they couldn’t squeeze a smart car into it; maybe it would be easier to land a jet.

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles driving test doesn’t include parallel parking. In Virginia, where the state DMV’s road-skills exam is administered to teenagers by private driving schools, there’s no demand to test parallel parking.

One reason for the change is the claim that a “reverse two-point turnabout” maneuver, which involves the same skills at the wheel as parallel parking, is taught anyway.

Here’s what the website tells aspiring licensed drivers about the reverse two-point turnabout, which is also done on the closed course:

“You will be asked to drive past an area that represents a driveway or alley. You will be required to back your vehicle into the designated area on your right until the front of your vehicle clears the front set of cones. You will have 3 minutes to complete this exercise.”

Doesn’t sound too difficult, huh? Other reasons, given off-the-record, are that the fail rate was pretty high, and they want to be able to push people through.

In other words, if fewer people fail, then fewer people will have to come back, and lines and waiting times could be reduced.

I’m happy to report my oldest passed the test with flying colors, my youngest has her temporary driving permit and let’s just say I’m glad the parking cones we use aren’t living, breathing things because we’d have a mass murder on our hands.

If I remember correctly, after much practice and a few choice curse words from my dad, I too did well enough to pass.

And we’ll leave it at that.

Now, some of my daughter’s friends were brought to tears over the parallel parking portion of the test.

One took three times to eventually pass; another was told to take two weeks off then quit (I’m kidding about that one).

But some driving school instructors say that parallel parking is one of the things that distinguishes good drivers from bad ones. Others say with parallel parking gone from the test, they won’t have to teach it, meaning they can focus more on traffic safety.

I would love to hear from you parallel parking fans or foes out there. Should the country abolish that part of the test? Do you have a parallel parking fun story to share? Have the scuffed tires to prove it?

In the meantime, we could all move to Florida, where, apparently, there is an abundance of angled parking spaces. You know, where you back in at an angle. I’m told they’re much easier to maneuver… or are they?

Brent Johnson, co-owner of Square One Salon and Spa has angled spots in front of his place at the Cannery. And he says, “They aren’t loved by the masses.”

“Everyone states they’ve never seen rear pull-in spaces, and they are not without their challenges,” he continues. “The biggest being the frustration exhibited by the drivers behind the person pulling in. They react as if the person pulling in is doing something wrong, which they aren’t. Once a guest has pulled in a few times (practice), there isn’t as much frustration. It’s a bit intimidating to pull out when the car to your left is taller than yours. The driver is 100 percent blind to the traffic coming to their left, but it does offer more spaces and pulling out is easy… If you can see what’s coming.”

So, my solution to parallel parking… Take the RTA.



A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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