Top 10 Questions – Parking on a Hill

Parking on a hill - California DMV illustration

2 out 3 Don’t Know How To Park on a Hill

If you live in a place like San Francisco, parking on a hill is probably part of your daily routine. If you don’t, parking on hills can be confusing. You are probably one of many driver’s who don’t know (and never learned) how to park correctly on a grade. Questions about parking on a hill are a very common pitfall on many road tests and written knowledge tests.

parking on a hill

First of all, parking on a hill or a grade is not illegal. You must, of course, make sure that you vehicle is not a hazard when it is parked. Whenever you park, be sure it is far enough from any travel lane to avoid interfering with traffic. It must be clearly visible to vehicles approaching from either direction.

The General Rule

The general rule is to turn the front wheels to the right side. It means, you must turn the wheels to the side of the road and away from the travel lane.

This always applies when you park downhill. It doesn’t matter if there is a curb or not. If your car starts rolling, it will roll off the road and not roll into traffic.

This also applies when you park uphill and there isn’t a curb. If your car starts rolling, there is no curb to stop it. It will simply roll beyond the edge and off the roadway.

The only time the front wheels should be turned the other way, is when you park uphill and there is a curb.

When parking uphill with a curb, turn the wheels to the left and away from the curb. If you let your car roll back just a few inches, the back of your front wheel will hit the curb. That will stop your car from going any further. The curb will act as a second parking brake.

Parking on a hill
The illustration is taken from the California Driver Handbook.

Other Important Reminders

Whenever you park your car, you must stop your engine and set your parking brake. Leave the vehicle in gear if it has a manual transmission or in park if it has an automatic transmission.

Before getting out, remove the keys. Never leave the ignition keys in a parked vehicle. Lock your doors when you leave.

2 Comments

  1. frederick fossmeyer April 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Hill parking rules make sense. can an auto owner or driver be
    ticketed and fined when disobeyed?

    • Yes. But it often depends on state and/or city. This is an example of a local ordinance in California: “No person shall park or leave standing any vehicle unattended on a highway upon any grade exceeding three percent (within any business or residence district) without blocking the wheels of such vehicle by turning them into and against the curb or by other means.”

      It is known to be enforced.

      It makes good sense to always turn the wheels and use the parking brake.

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