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Parking facing the wrong direction


(a) An operator who stops or parks on a two-way roadway shall do so with the right-hand wheels of the vehicle parallel to and within 18 inches of the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

(b) An operator who stops or parks on a one-way roadway shall stop or park the vehicle parallel to the curb or edge of the roadway in the direction of authorized traffic movement with the right-hand wheels within 18 inches of the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or the left-hand wheels within 18 inches of the left-hand curb or edge of the roadway. This subsection does not apply where a local ordinance otherwise regulates stopping or parking on the one-way roadway.

When parallel parking on a street, it is illegal to park facing oncoming traffic. Lots of folks do it, though, especially in residential neighborhoods. But it’s illegal because it’s generally unsafe for several reasons.

First of all, to park facing traffic requires one to drive on the wrong side of the road, which is illegal unless overtaking another vehicle or passing an obstruction. And in doing so, pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists are not likely expecting you to be coming from that direction on that side of the street and may enter the street without looking for you.

Secondly, all cars have reflectors on the rear, but the front of most cars do not have reflectors, so when parking at night, a vehicle facing the wrong was is less visible, especially in low-light conditions. Also, someone approaching a vehicle parked the wrong way in low-visibility conditions may misinterpret which side of the road it’s on and attempt to go around it on the wrong side.

Also, when leaving a parking space when parked facing traffic, you have to clear traffic from both directions, a more complicated task, especially from a parallel position.

But, perhaps the biggest issue is because when you are parked the wrong way and another vehicle parks in front of you– especially one that is larger– your view of traffic will be nearly completely blocked since the driver is on the curb side instead of on the traffic side. Therefore, you would have to pull your vehicle substantially out of the space and into the traffic lane before being able to see oncoming traffic.

But, you say, you park where someone won’t park in front of you. Yes, then in that case, this specific reason wouldn’t apply. However, the law does not provide that exception, and for good reason– sure, maybe there’s not a place to park in front of you. But what if a car broke down there? Or someone parked illegally there? Not to mention that the other safety reasons mentioned above still apply. So take the extra 30 seconds to turn around and park facing the right way.


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