Of the many stresses related to driving, from merging on a highway to getting frost off your windshield, it’s parallel parking that might provoke the most concern. Getting a car situated perfectly between two parked vehicles is something many people do once to pass a driver’s test and then never again.
Now, there’s some tangible evidence to prove it: A small study has demonstrated a marked increase in heart rate when people start backing up.
The experiment was conducted by car marketplace hub Auto Trader UK and involved 20 participants, each of whom wore a Polar H10 heart rate monitor on their wrist. To establish a baseline, the drivers took their resting heart rate and then attempted to parallel park. On average, their beats per minute (BPM) rose 57 percent when attempting that particular maneuver. One driver saw a 22 percent increase, while the most nervous jumped to 84 percent.
Even backing into a parking spot was a stressor, with an average heart rate increase of 46 percent.
Auto Trader UK also surveyed an additional 1200 respondents to specifically gauge their feelings about parallel parking. Roughly 26 percent find it nerve-wracking, though apprehension over it seems to get better with age. Thirty-seven percent of those under 24 dislike it, while only 21 percent of those over age 55 are concerned. Eleven percent of drivers said they’ve previously parked illegally rather than try a parking spot they’re worried about. Nearly 20 percent would sooner catch a spider or visit the dentist than parallel park.