How to use Reference Points for Driving and Parking?

As a new driver, you may have trouble making traffic maneuvers that are smooth and more accurate such as parallel parking in a correct distance to the curb or making smooth turns. This is because you cannot accurately see where your car is positioned on the road or next to the curb.

In order to get a better idea as to where your car is positioned compared to the curb, pavement lines or road's marking, you need to set a few reference points on your car such as the center of your hood and draw a straight line with your eyes (line of sight) to a pavement line or curb.

There are common (standard) reference points on a vehicle that you can use; however, these reference points are just approximate. This is because these common (standard) reference points were calculated based on a sedan automobile and a person of a standard height.

In order to get an accurate idea of your car's reference points compare to a pavement line or curb, you should take your car to an empty parking lot and set up your own reference points based on comparing those reference points to the curbs and pavement lines.

Examples of common reference points:

Your hood - You can divide your car's hood into these reference points:
Left Corner, 1 Foot from Left Corner, Center Left, Center of Hood, Center Right, 1 Foot from Right Corner, Right Corner.

Examples of measuring your car's distance from the right curb or right pavement line:

  • If you can draw a straight line with your eyes from the center of your car's hood to the right curb or right line, then your vehicle is about 3-6 inches away from the right curb or right line.
  • If you can draw a straight line with your eyes from the center right of your car's hood to the right curb or right line, then your vehicle is about 3 feet away from the right curb or right line.

Example of measuring your car's distance from the left curb or left pavement line:

  • If you can draw a straight line with your eyes 1 foot from the left corner of your car's hood to the curb to the left, then your vehicle is about 3-6 inches away from the left curb or left line.

Example of measuring your car's front bumper distance from an intersection line:

  • If you can draw a straight line with your eyes from your passenger's side mirror to the intersection line or the curb, your front bumper is right at the intersection line.

Example of measuring your car's rear bumper distance from the rear pavement line:

  • If you look over your left shoulder and you can draw a straight line from the middle of the back seat's left-side window to the rear pavement line, your rear bumper is about 3-6 inches away from the rear pavement line.