Parent and child parking bay rules explained
Parent and child parking bays are designed to help motorists with young families. Have you ever misused a bay?
Parent and child parking bays are vital for motorists with young children. In fact, over one in five motorists use them once a week.*
But not everyone respects the restrictions on these bays. More than a third of parents have noticed someone misusing a parent and child parking space.
Lockdown hasn’t stopped motorists misusing them either. An eighth admitted to using a parent and child parking space in the last few months, exploiting the lack of policing.
Understandably this is irritating for parents, but why is it happening?
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Why do parents need allocated parking bays?
Regular spaces simply don’t have enough room for manoeuvring children in and out of a car.
More than half of parents struggle to get their child out of the car because they don’t have enough room in a regular parking space.
The bays are also closer to the store entrance, so parents don’t have to walk or carry their child through a busy car park. But because of parking bay misuse, one in four parents have had to do just that.
More than a fifth saw a car speeding past after parking in a regular space, putting their child at risk.
READ MORE: Parking rules and restrictions
Why are people misusing parking bays?
We asked the public why they misused parent and child parking bays.
Almost a third said that it was late at night and there wasn’t anyone around.
A quarter said that they were only using it for a few minutes.
Some motorists have taken advantage of deserted car parks in the last few months too. One in eight admit to parking in a parent and child parking bay during lockdown.
One in seven did this because they knew there was no one around to enforce the rules.
The parent parking problem
In 2019, we visited supermarkets across 10 regions in Britain to see how bad the parent and child parking problem is.
Looking at one supermarket per region, our researchers took note of whether a driver left the car with or without a child.
They discovered that one in four people misuse parent and child parking bays – with the most happening at Morrisons.
Regionally, the highest amount of incorrect parking occurred in the North East, with 64% of people misusing the bays.
The lowest was in the South West, with only 5% of people parking incorrectly.
What are the rules around parent and child parking bays?
Unless any signage says otherwise, you can use a parent and child parking bay if you have a child with you that’s under 12 or in a car or booster seat.
It’s unclear whether pregnant women can use these spaces as signs specifically refer to parents with children.
We asked supermarkets about this, Tesco was the only store to mention pregnant women:
"It's up to the store whether they penalise a pregnant woman for using the parent and child parking bay."
If you’re pregnant and feel you need the extra room, it’s worth asking the store whether you can park in these bays.
It’s not illegal to park in a parent and child space without a child, but you could land a fine if you’re caught.
The way supermarkets monitor parking varies between each store, but here’s a basic run down:
Parent and child parking bay misuse is handled by the store itself and fines would be issued by the car park operators.
An external agency monitors Asda’s car parks. Regular checks are conducted to enforce parking regulations. If someone has parked incorrectly they will be issued with a parking charge.
If someone is discovered parking incorrectly they are politely asked to move, or a sign is placed on their windscreen.
An external agency will issue a parking charge notice (PCN) to anyone wrongly parked.
If a customer has noticed someone misusing a parent and child bay they are encouraged to report it to the store manager. However, they are unable to enforce this as there are limited staff in store.
Lidl do not have the facilities to monitor the use of parent and child parking bays. They strongly rely on the honesty of customers to park correctly.
Can people with Blue Badges use a parent and child parking bay?
One in seven motorists said they parked in a parent and child parking bay because they were travelling with a Blue Badge holder. At the time of parking, there wasn’t a space available in the Blue Badge bays.
This is a grey area, but it’s worth checking with your local supermarket to see where they stand on this.
If you’ve noticed someone parking incorrectly in your local supermarket, you can use our tool to let the store know about it:
*Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Confused.com. This was a nationally-representative poll of 2,000 UK adults. The research was conducted between 10 and 15 August 2020.