DC Eliminates Parallel Parking Test; Why? No Place to Practice

February 10, 2012 9:02 pmBy: 

photoCan’t parallel park?  Don’t worry.  If you live in the District, that won’t keep you from getting a drivers license.

That’s right.  Even though parallel parking is one of the hardest skills for new drivers to learn and to master, it is no longer part of the road test for licensing drivers in the District of Columbia, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Why?  Not enough parking spaces.

That’s right. The District DMV says there aren’t enough parking spaces to safely administer the parking test.

The failure to parallel park successfully and smoothly is a safety factor, especially for the city’s newest drivers, ages 16-20, warns the auto club. Most states require prospective drivers to prove they can parallel parkduring the DMV driving test before they can get their driver’s licenses, observes the auto club.  For three years now, District drivers haven’t had to prove it while taking the road test at the DMV.

“Let’s face it, if you don’t know how to parallel park, you probably shouldn’t be driving in the District, where street parking is scarce and the ability to park is a must-have skill set for city drivers,”  said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “It’s axiomatic, the road skills test is designed to help licensing agencies to test the ability and the skills of driver’s license applicants and to determine whether they can  drive, operate, and maneuver a vehicle in traffic conditions.”

Because of the fear of bumping into, damaging, sideswiping, or scraping the bumper or the finish off other parked vehicles, even some longtime drivers are still intimidated by the thought of parallel parking on the busy and overcrowded streets  in downtown Washington, where parking is always at a premium, and on the city’s residential streets, where finding a parking space is contentious at times,  observes the AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman. “Knowing how to parallel park is an essential driving skill in the District, where street parking is the norm, and where there is little leniency for drivers who can’t do it.”

Earlier this week, the District DMV confirmed drivers do not have to parallel park to obtain a non-commercial driver’s license, citing space and “site constraints.”  In the wake of questions about why parallel parking hasn’t been included on the road tests for three years now, the DMV said it plans to reinstate the parallel parking requirement once it finds adequate space to administer the road test.

That could happen as early as next year, if the city government is able to lease suitable space, according to Lucinda M. Babers,  the Director of the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Babers made the announcement earlier this week during a joint live parking web chat with DDOT and DPW.

 

 

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