Parallel Parking and the Impatient Driver

Parallel ParkingHere's another question from the DriveSmartBC inbox: I've noticed recently that often drivers are impatient of people parallel parking and pass them on the left rather than waiting in the right hand lane for the driver to finish parking before moving forward. In the event of a collision who is at fault - the person parallel parking or the person trying to go around the parallel parking car?

Parallel Parking Collision & ICBC Fault Decision

This question turned out to be more involved when I corresponded with the person asking it and learned about what had prompted the query. She had found a place to parallel park, stopped in position to back in, signalled, made sure that the vehicle behind had stopped and began to back in.

Once the reporting was completed and the decisions made, She said that ICBC decided that she was at fault for the collision because she lost sight of the other vehicle while she was backing up. The original query was to try and determine if there were rules about passing that the other driver should have followed.

Continuous 360° Scan

Like most of us, she concentrated on getting into the parking space properly and did not watch to see that the vehicle behind her remained stopped. This was an important mistake. Somewhere in the parking attempt, the driver behind decided not to wait, pulled forward to pass and a minor collision occurred.

Perhaps it is an oversight, but neither Learn to Drive Smart nor the Tuning Up Guide mention continuing to monitor traffic behind you while you are parallel parking.

The Law on Backing Up

The Motor Vehicle Act requires that a driver must not cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.

Duty to Pass Safely

The Motor Vehicle Act does say that the driver passing on the left must do so at a safe distance and must do so safely. Considering only what was explained here, it would appear that this was not followed as the collision occurred. Were the parking driver's backup and signal lamps working? Perhaps the passing driver did not get the information needed to determine what the parking driver was doing.


Did the passing driver sound the horn? If they did and the parking driver heard it, they are required to give way to the right.

Civil Law Decisions

Finally, the Motor Vehicle Act rules and how ICBC finds financial fault are two different and not always related areas. As visitors to this site who have read some of the Case Law stories can see, civil liability does not always work out the way we might expect it to.

If you are interested in learning more, ICBC publishes liability information for various crash types.

All things considered, if the passing driver knew what the parking driver was intending, a few seconds of patience here would have avoided the crash.


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The first of these is that basically always, ICBC Claims will rule that if a collision occurs, the reversing driver will be held at fault. This, based on Section 193 of the MVA.

Caution in backing vehicle

193 The driver of a vehicle must not cause the vehicle to move backwards into an intersection or over a crosswalk, and must not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.

That's it. And if two vehicles reverse into each other, such as in a parking lot, blame will be apportioned 50/50.

Meanwhile, you can't help thinking that the driver who chose to pass, instead of wait, should have been well aware that the front left corner of the parallel parking vehicle must necessarily swing out in order to achieve the necessary angle.

It amazes me sometimes, to see how many drivers react almost instantly to a temporary delay in the lane ahead; it might be a parallel parker in the right lane, or a left-turner in the left lane. They never give themselves a moment to process what's happening, to determine whether the person reversing seems competent and efficient, or when in the left lane, whether the turning vehicle will soon be able to complete their maneuver.

It's driving with emotion, not driving with intelligence. And in all likelihood, the driver will put themselves into the incorrect lane for their next intended turn, so that's another lane change they'll have to make at the last moment.