Aspiring Michigan Drivers Could See Their Wish Come True

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
aspiring michigan drivers could see their wish come true

Your author failed his first driver’s test, but the blame falls not on an overall lack of precision and orientation on the part of the driver, but General Motors’ atrocious first-generation anti-lock braking system. “Stop” pedal bending to the floor, the sedan rolled sedately through the snowy intersection at a glacial 5 mph, happily confident in the knowledge that preventing even a millimeter of tire slide was a better outcome than actually stopping within a reasonable distance.

Opening the door and dragging my foot on the ground, Flintstones-style, may have proved more effective in slowing the car.

Michigan drivers might still face such a scenario when the time comes to secure their license, but proposed legislation might ensure they never have to take the dreaded parallel parking test.

House Bill 4976, currently under study by the Committee on Transportation, would eliminate the parallel parking requirement from the state’s driving test. Introduced by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Springport) on May 9th, the bill stems from constituents who complained about dropping $50, only to have their dream of a driver’s license sunk by that particular test.

“It’s a money game,” Lightner told ABC affiliate WZZM. “It’s becoming an outdated practice. If you do have a parallel parking issue, if you can’t fit, drive around the block.”

Truth be told, my mother hasn’t parallel parked once in the decades since her driver’s test, except in circumstances where the street is half empty. Judging where the corners of the vehicle are while maneuvering in reverse takes some skill, though most drivers prefer pulling into spots nose-first.

Still, the skill required in cinching the maneuver has farther-reaching ramifications. Is knowing how to parallel park vital to the operation of a motor vehicle? Perhaps in urban centers, though Lightner remarked that, in her area, angled parking is a more popular form of parking. Other states, including neighboring Ohio, have already scrapped the test requirement.

Not surprisingly, Dave Muma, owner of Century Driving, feels the test is essential for identifying if a driver has basic skills.

“The state of Michigan with the road tests is looking for really four components: Do you know how far your front end sticks out? Do you know how far your back end sticks out? Do you know how to back up to your right side? Do you know how to back up to your left side?” Muma said. “In these exercises and how they’re being asked to be performed, these are the easiest ways to do that.”

Under the proposed legislation, parallel parking would still be part of the driver training curriculum. It just wouldn’t appear in the test. Muma remains concerned that adult drivers who aren’t required to take the beginner segments of the course would lose out on what he feels is required knowledge.

As Michigan weighs whether to drop the test, several automakers have already made the skill redundant, building parallel parking aids into their suite of driver-assist features. Turning down the stereo to listen (fearfully) for that tell-tale scraping noise could one day become a thing of the past.

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2 of 34 comments
  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on May 16, 2019

    Garrett's got it. Mediocre drivers have mediocre expectations, and that's why the Detroit three turn out mediocre products.

  • Theflyersfan Theflyersfan on May 16, 2019

    In Kentucky's "never leave the DMV parking lot" driver's test, parallel parking is still done. If your car has a backup camera, they cover the screen with cardboard. So if you're in a Camaro, Land Rover, or any other car with a mail slot rear window, good luck. Of course their parallel parking slot can hold a Ford F-350 towing a double-wide so if you fail that part...maybe you shouldn't be driving in the first place! Of course this easy testing (again - never leaving the parking lot!!!) might explain the wonderful drivers of this area...