Bumper taps - parallel parking

While parallel parking at work, my compact sedan touched the bumper of another vehicle, a mid-sized SUV. While I felt nothing and was unaware of the touch, it was a strong enough touch to cause the other vehicle to move visibly on the camera surveillance. The other driver was notified and escorted to the street to inspect her car for damage, and while no damage was found, I was notified and advised that this kind of careless parking is not acceptable.
I am embarrassed that I’m not as good a parallel parker as I thought I was, but I’m having trouble accepting that this is a big deal. I’ve asked around, and opinions seem to be split based on a couple of factors: urban/suburban and old/young. I used to live in a large urban area (10.5 million people) where the lack of available spaces and the need to take any space where you could squeeze in led to parking by Braille being completely normal. I now live in a suburb where people drive by spaces that are only six feet longer than their cars. And, being old, I learned to drive when cars had real bumpers, not pieces of plastic.
So now I need to be educated: Is gently touching another car while parking a big deal?
Does it depend on where you live?
Has it changed over the years because cars have changed?
Am I just an idiot who wasn’t brought up right?

Bumping another vehicle while parking is not acceptable at any age or location . You seem to not understand you made a mistake . We all can make mistakes but the thing is to not blame anyone or anything else.

What if it had been your vehicle that someone backed into ?


Yeah, back up till you ear glass they used to say. Newer cars with backup cameras and warnings are sweet. Had wifes old van a number of years ago, so many dings and bells every time you started the car I was backing out f a space and hit a bollard not visible in rear view or side mirrors. Maybe in NY City people accept bumper scrapes and dings as part of life, but I avoid bumping cars as a priority.


Me too! But I avoid bumping into someone else rig.

No, you’re not an idiot.

Those “pieces of plastic” are actually supported by steel, and that steel is backed by materials that can absorb relatively minor impacts that the so-called “real bumpers” of yesteryear could not absorb. However, backing into another modern vehicle can leave surface scars on the plastic facing of the rigid bumper.

Additionally, it is possible that you could have damaged the “park pawl” in the other vehicle’s transmission if you hit it hard enough. And, before you try to assign blame to modern technology, damaging the “park pawl” of a transmission by hitting a stationary vehicle was a potential problem even in the days before the “plastic bumpers” of the modern era.

No, it is not a “big deal” as long as you haven’t caused damage to the other vehicle’s transmission or its plastic bumper facing. In any event, I hope that you can accept that you were at fault, and that the owner of the other vehicle was not at fault.

Perhaps you should consider a newer vehicle that is equipped with a backup camera and with audible warnings when you are getting too close to the vehicle behind you. Modern technology can save you from all sorts of embarrassing and damaging situations.


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I am going to go against the grain here and say that I feel really sorry for the younger generation, coming of age when there are surveillance cameras everywhere, and you can’t get away with sh**.

When I was a teenager, there were obviously surveillance cameras inside banks, stores, and other businesses, but very rarely were there any monitoring the parking lot, and certainly there were not any monitoring public streets. The camera footage was low-resolution at best, and usually recorded on VHS tapes, and depended on a live security guard watching a wall of monitors to see something and focus his attention there.

Now, there are cameras everywhere, not just on private property, and the resolution has gotten to the point that a camera hundreds of feet away could read the serial numbers on a dollar bill in your hand. The footage is stored in digital form on remote servers, and analyzed in real time by powerful computers. It is no longer the decision of a human security guard to focus his attention to a particular screen–AI with facial recognition technology is watching and it never blinks.

Back to the topic at hand, when we were younger, we all bumped someone else’s bumper while parking, or accidentally opened a car door too fast and dented someone else’s car. The only difference was that the eye in the sky wasn’t watching and tracking our every move. And, of course, we hopefully learned to be more careful in the future.


Susan , what do you have as a vehicle ? We have to use a hospital 7 layer parking garage and when we go there we take our small vehicle instead of our station wagon just so we have less chance of damage to or by our car.

Europeans living in cities have done this for years. More than just taps, they will actually nudge the space bigger.

Doesn’t mean it is right.

This time was a harmless tap, next time it causes damage that isn’t reported. That is why you were talked to. It isn’t acceptable.


This is unacceptable. First, you could easily crack or scratch the paint on the bumper. If you did that to my car, which is in excellent condition with no dings or scratches, I’d be mad. Second, many bumpers have expensive sensors installed that aren’t built to handle any kind of impact, so they could be damaged. If you can’t park without hitting the car behind you, you need a car with a backup camera.

Yeah amen to that. I’m not so sure it’s legal unless signs are posted. You can’t tape a conversation without the other person knowing but you can film them?

But yeah, my bumpers are painted and I inspect and repair any damage to the paint, so I wouldn’t appreciate someone scuffing up my bumper. Same thing for door dings. Don’t touch my car. Still I’d tell the guy with the eye on the film to get bent and sue me. He can’t though because he has no standing, just a screaming bystander. The girl that got hit can’t either because there was no damage.

I just wish people would relax a little. One my one year old Olds with heavy chrome bumpers, at a stop light a kid slid into my rear bumper on ice. Yeah he put a ding in it that I didn’t like that was there until I got rid of the car ten years later. It would have required a new bumper. Stuff happens. We both just went on out way.

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The difference is that today we live in a society where the threshold between a big deal / not a big deal has shifted. Now everything is a big deal. Years ago I was rear ended while driving a company car and the lady put a dent about the size of an egg in the old style chrome rear bumper. I took her name and number but I really wasn’t that concerned. My boss asked me what I would’ve done if it had been my car. I told him I would’ve done the same thing, which was absolutely true.

If you simply nudged the other vehicle chances are very good there was no harm done but you might want to be more careful next time. Personally, when I’m parallel parking I open the driver’s door and lean out since I don’t have a backup camera.


I picture Lucy in the Peanuts comics screaming “you touched me, agggggh, you touched me!!!”


Every used car from the 1960’s and early 70’s that I bought had damaged chrome bumpers. It seems that people were more reckless and careless when cars had “real bumpers”.
The bumpers on my 2000 Dodge are flawless, I don’t push cars out of my way.

If you backed into another car hard enough that the security camera could see the other car move, that is more than a touch and I don’t see how you could feel it.

As far as cars with "real"bumpers that were impervious to small hits, you have to go back to the early 30s to find spring steel bumpers designed with some give,

I read an early court case from the 20s where a judge dismissed a case against a motorist who backed into another with the words " That is why they are called bumpers.

Those days are long gone. Anyone who grew up in a rural area knows that rudeness correlates to population density.

Yes. Don’t ram into other people’s stuff at any speed. It’s a big deal any time you hit something with your car whether you cause damage or not, because it means you aren’t driving well and haven’t learned where the edges of your car are. Sure, maybe this time you got lucky and didn’t cause damage when you hit something, but next time you may not be so fortunate - and the kid you hit might not be very lucky either.
This is a safety issue, and just because you got away with it this time doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to keep going without addressing the cause of your mistake.



I won’t say you’re an idiot, but if you think it’s OK to run into other people’s cars, then you definitely need to do an ethical recalibration.

All that said, what you’re doing isn’t uncommon. People who live where they have to park on tight streets often deploy big rubber guards over their bumpers because they know their car is gonna get tapped by other parkers, and they also know those parkers aren’t going to fess up unless a security camera catches them.

And THAT said, just because a lot of people do bad things doesn’t mean you’re cleared to join them. You should do some practice in an empty parking lot to figure out how to get the front and back of your car close to stuff without actually hitting it. Also, you can get an aftermarket backup camera if your car doesn’t have one, and that will help you know if you’re about to hit something in the rear. You can also have parking sensors added to the front and rear of your car, which will help keep you from hitting something on either end.


I think that you omitted the word “not”, from that sentence.
Did you mean to state… I don’t see how you could not feel it?

Yes, obvious oversight. Thank you.

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There are only 12 states that have 2 party consent.

If someone did it to my car and there wasn’t any damage, then I’d let it go. No big deal. However…many times that’s not the case.

Years ago my niece was slightly hit by the car behind her. The guy got out and then told my niece that there really wasn’t any damage. My niece really didn’t feel comfortable getting out of car without anyone else being around with this guy. Seemed real creepy. When she got home she noticed the extend of the damage…The guys truck was higher then the bumper on her car and part of the trunk was caved in…over $1000 in damage.

Maryland has two party consent. That to Linda Tripp (remember her?) in trouble for recording her conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Tripp went to trial for it. Both Lewinsky and Tripp were in MD at their respective homes when the calls were recorded.

I’ve never heard of a limitation on outdoor surveillance cameras in a situation like this.