Bill would end parallel parking tests

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The woman in a hurry for an appointment seemed to have lots of room to parallel park her minivan in downtown Kalamazoo on Thursday.

But the few feet behind her disappeared quickly.

Honda minivan meet silver passenger car.

Parallel parking is the scourge of downtown drivers and is one the most feared parts of driver’s training, though the Secretary of State says being bad at it, on its own, won’t keep you from getting a license.

But proposed legislation would no longer require young drivers to pass that part of the driving test.

“I think kids are intimidated by it when they first hear they’ve got to parallel park because they’ve heard horror stories from someone,” said Rick Beauregard, of E-Z Way Driver Training in Kalamazoo.

A recent poll of the state’s driver training instructors found that three-quarters of them want to keep the parallel parking test.

State Rep. Sarah Lightner, a Republican from the Jackson area, introduced House Bill 4576 last week. It’s been moved to the House Transportation Committee.

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, which licenses drivers, said it is willing to discuss pending legislation with lawmakers but that it feels strongly about its parallel parking test.

“I think it’s a task that students at some point in their driving career are going to have to do,” Beauregard said. “We can talk about new cars have parallel parking mode, and all of that, but when you look at the reality of young drivers, how many young drivers are going to be driving a brand new car?”

On Thursday, Kitty Johnson drove her Jeep nose-first into a parking spot.

“I was going to try it (parallel parking), but there were cars behind me just now, so I just pulled in,” she said.

She said passed her parallel parking test after training with her dad.

“It’s still something that’s hard for me to do, so I think that it’s important that they learn it in school,” she said.

Then, there’s me. I’ve been driving for 44 years. This should be easy, driving with instructor Rick Beauregard in his driver training car.

“Take a left here,” he said as we started our trip for a few blocks through downtown Kalamazoo, looking for parking.

Well, it was almost perfect, except for that little adjustment at the end.

“You would have lost one point,” he said.

That wouldn’t have been enough to keep me from getting a license. That had happened a few blocks earlier when I rolled through a stop sign.

“That would have been an instant failure,” Beauregard said.

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