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Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5 billion a year

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5billion a year

New research reveals how much parking bumps and crunches cost the UK motorist. Apparently, we’re shelling out £1.5 billion a year.

The study by Skoda questioned 2,000 UK drivers on their experiences. It revealed that around 11 percent had seriously damaged their car while parking over the course of the last year. That’s 3.74 million people out of the UK’s 34 million motorists.

Around 40 percent said they’d hit a lamp post, tree or space divider. And the average bill for this damage was £396.

As for other parking problems, four in 10 of the motorists polled admitted to whacking another car with their door when getting out. In a year, the average driver also kerbs his or her wheels twice.

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5billion a year

Despite all this, our confidence isn’t dented. An ambitious 73 percent of Brits reckon they are good at parking. But only 53 percent think they’re good enough to get themselves through another driving test.

Of course, new cars can come with an arsenal of new technology designed to help you park. Reversing cameras, position indicators and software that displays exactly where your car is can take the pain out of the process. There are also systems that will park the car for you, although we wonder how many actually trust them to do so.

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5billion a year

“While many people feel confident in their parking capabilities the numbers show motorists have forked out significant sums in the last 12 months repairing their cars from parking mishaps,” said a Skoda spokesperson. 

Parking fines: When and how you should appeal

How and when you should appeal parking fines

Nothing knocks the wind out of your sails quite like the sight of a bright yellow parking ticket wedged under your car’s wiper. Unlike many private parking tickets, council and police-backed parking tickets are more often than not the real deal. However, there are still circumstances where you can appeal, and get away without that sting in your bank balance. Here’s how to appeal a parking fine.

The advice comes courtesy of Hippo Leasing, which has revealed that council-owned car parks in England generated a massive £930 million in parking fines in 2019. Many of these tickets could have been unjustly given, or easily appealed.

Indeed, 56 percent of motorists who appeal a parking fine are succesful. The first piece of advice, for private or public fines, is to not pay it if you want to appeal. Payment is an admission of guilt, and you’ll have a devil of a job getting that back.

Good reasons to appeal your fine

Train station parking

Obviously, if you’ve parked and not paid, or knowingly outstayed your welcome, that is a wrongdoing on your part and the fine is fair. However, there are a number of situations where appealing might be worthwhile.

Broken down

If you’ve outstayed a prescribed parking period because your car has broken down, you should definitely appeal. Evidence will be needed, like a recovery receipt or the like, but given everything’s above board, the appeal should be successful.

Illness

If you pulled over spontaneously because you were ill, it’s also worth appealing.

Incorrect details

This is where reading the notice carefully is a good call. Know the charge, and know your story. If the timings don’t match up, or the plate is incorrect, state your case. As above, evidence is always useful, like a parking receipt.

Expensive high-street parking

Unclear or incorrect signs

Signs that are out of your way can be cause for appeal. Pleading ignorance, or citing the parking period, can go far. It’s entirely possible you were papped after a free parking period began, making the fine unjust, or that the sign detailing the rules was too far out of your way to fairly make you aware. Photo evidence would help you in that case.

Over-strictness

Council-run car parks operate a ten-minute grace period. If a parking warden has got a bit over eager handing out tickets, provided you can prove it, this is grounds for your fine to be dropped.

Legitimate pay, unfortunate display

Finally, if you have paid, but haven’t displayed as well as you could have, it’s also worth a shot. It’s possible you’ll be declined, but, nothing ventured…

In any case, it’s always worth establishing a dialogue with the authority that issued the fine, by email or even on the phone.

Appealing private tickets

Van drivers facing parking crisis

Private tickets, while sounding official and often coming with photo evidence (if arriving through the post), are not a fine. They are a breach of contract and can be challenged if you think you’re in the right. Private firms can also be more trigger-happy in sending out fines, too.

We’ve experienced fines for exceeding time limits when we haven’t, and fines for being somewhere on an entirely different date to when we were. Stories are rife of ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) systems penalising people for simply turning around in the entrance to a car park. In all cases, it is worth an appeal, following the process detailed on the ticket.

Rows of used cars in a parking lot

If the parking firm is part of a trade body, like the British Parking Association, you can help yourself by going through its independent portal. If the company isn’t a part of an official trade body, write a letter detailing your claim for exemption. Don’t worry if you don’t hear back: it’s a habit of private firms to go quiet of the case has been dropped, but a cursory phone call or email a couple of weeks down the line just to confirm can’t hurt.

You could appeal via the venue you were visiting. I successfully appealed an unjust fine I received at a Morrisons, via the supermarket, rather than the parking company. Time limits catch people out when they’re new or not clearly signposted. Again, dialogue is key. If you don’t try, you don’t win. A call or email to explain the situation, and that you weren’t exploiting the facility, can go a long way.

Explained: all the places you’re not allowed to park

where you can't park in the UK

Parking is something we like to moan about. Whether it’s excessive charges, a shortage of spaces or a clamping nightmare, the issue is never far from a motorist’s mind.

The subject of where you can and can’t park is more complex than you might think. If it’s been a while since you read the Highway Code, you might have forgotten where you’re not allowed to stop or park. Similarly, you might be in the dark when it comes to parking outside your own home.

Here, we reveal the places you’re not allowed to park, along with a few facts about parking in the UK. 

Yellow lines

Most drivers are aware that yellow lines relate to parking restrictions, although many choose to ignore the signs. Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at ANY TIME, even if there are no upright signs. Basically, you cannot park on double yellow lines.

Things aren’t so clear when it comes to single yellow lines. You MUST NOT wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation shown on the signs or at the entrance to a Controlled Parking Zone. Often, you’ll find that parking restrictions are lifted overnight or at weekends.

You MUST NOT wait, park, set down or pick up on school entrance markings when upright signs indicate a prohibition of stopping.

Double Yellow Lines UK

Parking by the roadside

The Highway Code says you must use off-street parking areas or bays marked out by white lines whenever possible. If you have to stop by the roadside, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • Do not park facing against the traffic flow
  • Stop as close as you can to the side of the road
  • Do not stop too close to a vehicle displaying a Blue Badge
  • Do not park in spaces reserved for Blue Badge holders, residents or motorcycles

There are specific rules regarding parking partially or wholly on the pavement. Click here for more information.

Where you MUST NOT stop or park

The Highway Code goes on to list the following places where you MUST NOT stop or park:

  • The carriageway or the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency
  • A pedestrian crossing, including the zig-zag lines
  • A clearway
  • Taxi bays
  • An Urban Clearway during its hours of operation
  • A road marked with double white lines in the middle, even when a broken white line is on your side of the road. The exception is to pick up or set down passengers, or to load and unload goods
  • A tram or cycle lane during its hours of operation
  • A cycle track
  • Red lines, unless otherwise indicated by signs

Abbey Road

Other parking restrictions

Rule 243 of the Highway Code says DO NOT stop or park in the following places:

  • Near a school entrance
  • Anywhere you would prevent access for emergency services
  • At or near a bus/tram stop or taxi rank
  • On the approach to a level crossing or tramway crossing
  • Opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space
  • Near the brow of a hill or humpback bridge
  • Opposite a traffic island or another parked vehicle
  • Where you would force other traffic to enter a tram lane
  • Where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles
  • In front of an entrance to a property
  • On a bend
  • Where you would obstruct cyclists’ use of cycle facilities

EXCEPT when forced to do so by stationary traffic.

What happens if someone parks on your driveway?

Make money renting driveway

Although you’re not allowed to park in front of an entrance to a property, there’s nothing to stop someone parking outside your house. Hannah Parsons, a solicitor at DAS Law, says: “A homeowner has no special legal right to park directly outside their property. All road users have the same right to park anywhere on the public highway as long as they do not contravene parking restrictions.”

Things aren’t so clear cut when it comes to parking on a driveway. As Hannah Parsons explains, it’s not a criminal offence.

“If a vehicle is parked on your driveway without your permission, they are trespassing. As trespass is a civil and not criminal offence, the police will not always get involved. At most, they may send an officer to try and determine the owner of the vehicle and ask them to move it.”

Once the car is on a driveway, it’s technically on private property – where the local council has no jurisdiction. A council will remove an abandoned car from private or public property, but if the vehicle is taxed, insured and has a valid MOT they’re unlikely to touch it.

Taking revenge by blocking the car in question isn’t recommended. Hannah Parsons says: “If someone has parked on your driveway and you were to block them in, your vehicle may be causing an obstruction to the public highway and this is a criminal offence. The owner of the vehicle could therefore call the police.”

This is a view shared by Paul Watters of the AA. He warns: “Frustrating though this may be, what you can’t do is pop a line of cones on the road outside. You’re then committing a criminal offence because they could cause an accident.

“This counts as obstruction and a penalty charge could be issued.”

Penalties for illegal parking

Parking ticket

The Traffic Management Act 2004 was introduced to tackle congestion and disruption on the road network. It gives local authorities more power to manage parking policies, coordinate street works and enforce some moving traffic offences.

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) might be enforced and issued through the civil rather than the criminal justice system. The fine may be either £70 or £50, depending on the impact of the offence.

The PCN is discounted by 50 percent to £35 or £25 if paid within 14 days of receiving the ticket. If the fine is left unpaid, the local authority can pursue the debt through the County Court.

For more motoring hints and tips, check out our advice section.

Mercedes-Benz drivers can pay for parking via their dashboard

Mercedes parking display

Parkopedia and EasyPark have joined forces to allow Mercedes-Benz drivers to pay for parking via their car dashboard.

For now, the service is available in around 200 German cities, but the in-car payment facility will be rolled out across Europe. EasyPark covers 1,400 cities across 18 countries, while Parkopedia provides information on 70 million parking spaces in around 15,000 cities.

The Mercedes-Benz owner requires a MercedesPay account, with payments handled by their Single Sign-On account.

Upon arrival at paid on-street parking zone, the Mercedes-Benz vehicle triggers the automated parking payment. The driver confirms the start of the transaction and exits the car. When the driver returns to the vehicle and starts the ignition, he or she is prompted to the stop the transaction. The MercedesPay account is charged – with the driver paying for the actual time spent at the parking location.

EasyPark Group CEO Johan Birgersson, said: “The Mercedes-Benz brand is synonymous with world-class design and the highest quality driving experience. Bringing the latest technology into cars to address the main parking pain points, the time drivers have to spend on finding and paying for parking, this innovative feature allows for a smooth and easy user experience that saves time and effort for users.”

Parking of tomorrow

Mercedes parking payment

Commenting on the announcement, Parkopedia’s COO Hans Puvogel added, “The launch of Single Sign-On payments for EasyPark-enabled locations is another example of how Parkopedia is working to help innovate the parking industry and provide better experiences for drivers.

”We are honoured that Mercedes-Benz has extended its trust in Parkopedia and EasyPark to offer on-demand parking as part of Mercedes-Benz’s comprehensive in-car parking services, and look forward to continuing to work together to further enhance the in-car experience for drivers.”

Every year, drivers in Europe and North America spend an average of 55 hours searching for parking spaces. Services such as Parkopedia will speed up the process of finding a space, while innovations such as this latest announcement will make searching for loose change a thing of the past. Indeed, the transaction will start and finish at a touch of a button.

In a previous statement, car park operator APCOA claimed looking for a suitable parking space accounts for practically one third of inner-city traffic. Mercedes-Benz said this would correspond to CO2 emissions of 1.3kg per search.

Free polling station parking to help people vote

Free parking for election 2019

With the first December election since 1923 looming, voters will be venturing out into the cold to have their say.

To encourage this, and quell worries about associated expenses, JustPark is giving customers 30 minutes of free parking close to polling stations on Thursday 12 December.

Voters can learn more via the app’s election day page, which allows users to search for spaces and reserve a half-hour slot. 

Free parking for election 2019

“Whatever your political opinion, we can all agree that boosting voter turnout is important, but it can be a real challenge given the time of year for this election,” said Anthony Eskinazi, CEO of JustPark.

“It’s important to us that as many people as possible are able to get out and vote.”

Temperatures are expected to be as low as minus three degrees centigrade, and three in five expect voter turnout to decrease as a result of such conditions. Two thirds said they were worried for the elderly, disabled or pregnant, and their ability to vote.

More than a quarter (26 percent) said they’d be more likely to drive out to vote if parking were affordable and available.

Free parking for election 2019

Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson launched the offering with JustPark, saying  “I am pleased to be part of a campaign that aims to get more people voting on December 12th.

“This will be the first December election for 96 years and, for the elderly and infirm in particular, there will be real worries about the cold and dark conditions. Being able to park, free of charge, close to the polling station will make a significant contribution to voter turnout.”

BP customers ‘stay too long’, get £100 parking charge

parking fines petrol station

An unexpected cost facing many UK drivers is the maximum-stay parking fine. Supermarkets and retail parks have been quietly installing CCTV and ANPR systems to make sure customers aren’t outstaying their welcome. Now, petrol stations are getting in on the act. Customers are finding out the hard way.

Gareth Hughes received a £100 fine for exceeding the 30-minute maximum stay limit at BP on Mitcham Road in Croydon. He didn’t park and ‘abandon’ his car, though. He got fuel, he paid, then chose to use the car wash. The resulting charge came after Mr Hughes took a full 17 minutes more than the allotted time. He claims there was no signage to denote the maximum stay period, either.

Another customer of the same BP outlet received a similar £100 fine. Media trainer and journalist Guy Clapperton browsed the adjacent M&S Simply Food to grab a few bits and to avoid the queue to pay. He paid and used the on-site car washing facilities, which amounted to him being there for 42 minutes. He appealed the fine and was eventually refunded, but got no sympathy from BP.

parking fines petrol station

“How can it make sense to penalise people who spend £80 or more on your services. An allowance of 45 minutes would be far more reasonable,” he told The Guardian.

When approached, a cashier at this BP admitted that they’ve been getting a lot of complaints, and that he thought those using the car wash got more time.

Similar experiences have occurred at other vendors too. The Guardian featured the case of a customer of Shell in Kilburn, who received a fine after being stuck in a queue for the car wash.

parking fines petrol station

The vendors and representatives of the retailers insist these limits and charges are there to stop rogue parkers from taking up spaces for excessive periods. Drivers contest, however, that not only are these restrictions unfairly tight, but they’re poorly publicised. In spite of parking enforcement companies often insisting they are ‘clearly signposted’, motorists still feel like they’re being taken for a ride.

Appealing parking fines

All time-limited parking vendors have appeals systems that you can use. If you feel a fine you’ve received is unjust, it’s worth the effort. If your fine comes following nothing but your use of the on-site facilities taking longer than you’d like, due to queues or similar, there’s a good chance you can make a successful appeal.

Essex villagers slash tyres of parked holidaymakers

Airport parking Essex villages

Holidaymakers who parked in the Essex villages of Takeley and Canfield have been coming back from their travels to unpleasant surprises. Slashed tyres and stickered windscreens are among the actions taken by local residents, who are angry about drivers using their streets to avoid Stansted airport parking charges.

The issue of ‘fly-parking’ goes beyond a lack of parking spaces. Other worries include blockages that slow the passage of emergency services, and buses no longer being able to use the affected roads. 

Many residents have tried putting up signs, but the success rate has apparently been low. Airport parking Essex villages

“I just think people are really not happy,” Canfield resident Christ Drew told Mail Online. “We keep being told to speak to the council but we feel like nothing gets done. What else can we do? Nobody seems to have any answers.

“There was talk about permits but it would be dependent on cost because if you can’t afford it, do you not get a resident parking permit?”

Resident-only parking permits are the likely solution, nonetheless, and have the support of local parish councils.

Airport parking Essex villages

“As a member of the Fly Parking Task Group, the NEPP is aware of this problem and enforces in residential areas in the vicinity of the airport as and when it can,” said a spokesperson for the North Essex Parking Partnership.

“NEPP considers the potential benefits and impacts of many parking or waiting restriction requests from across north Essex and would be happy to do so for any submitted by residents living in the vicinity of the airport. Applications for parking or waiting restrictions must be able to demonstrate clear support, including from the local ward councillor.”

One in four have misused a parent parking bay

Parent and child parking

Parent and child parking bays are designed for young families who need to open their doors wider. Located closer to the shops, they make life easier for parents who don’t want to ding doors – and safer for kids, who don’t need to cross a busy car park. One in four drivers has, however, misused these spots.

Indeed, nearly two thirds of parents say they’ve noticed someone misusing a parent and child parking bay, meaning they had to park elsewhere.

Parent and child parking

To get a handle on the problem, insurance comparison website Confused visited supermarkets across the UK. 

The North East apparently has the highest proportion of people who misuse the bays: 64 percent were observed doing so. By contrast, in the South West just five percent incorrectly used parent and child bays.Parent and child parking

When asked about why they use these bays incorrectly, 31 of drivers said it was because they couldn’t find a space. Another 31 percent said they observed a large availability of parent and child spaces, so they thought it was OK.

Some said it was ‘only for a few minutes’, as their justification. Others said they did so because it was late in the day.

Parent and child bays: the rulesParent and child parking

Unlike permit-only spaces or disabled bays, your child is effectively your badge here. In general, the rule is you can use a parent and child bay if you have a child aged under 12. Tesco says that pregnant women should ask in-store about the use of these bays. 

While Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco have enforcement, including the issue of fines. Morrisons will ask people to move, or place a sign, but not issue a penalty. Lidl and Aldi say they rely on their customers to be honest with their parking, although the latter has an online reporting system.

Private parking firms to give 10-minute grace period

Pay and display sign

Private parking firms will be required to give motorists a 10-minute grace period after their tickets expire.

This comes as part of the government’s continued efforts to clamp down on rogue car park operators.

A new Code of Practice developed by the British Standards Institution will make it easier for drivers to challenge unfair tickets. The knock-on effect will be a boost for local shops, the government says.

Measures to crack down on intimidating and aggressive debt collection practices are also being considered.

A 10-minute grace period was introduced for all council car parks in England in 2015, but is currently voluntary for private parking firms. 

Under government proposals, motorists in England, Scotland and Wales will be granted up to 10 minutes extra parking before a fine is issued.

Any private parking operators found breaking the Code will be stopped from requesting Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data. This will mean they’re unable to pursue motorists for their charges.

A new independent appeals service promises to give consumers greater support when challenging unjustified parking fines. 

Restoring common sense

Pay and display parking sign

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick said: “For too long rogue parking firms have operated in an unregulated industry, handing out unjust fines, putting drivers through baffling appeals processes and issuing tickets to motorists who were only seconds late back to their cars.

“That’s why we’ve appointed the British Standards Institution to work with consumer groups and industry to write the first ever compulsory Code of Practice for private parking firms.

“The new Code will restore common sense to the way parking fines are handed out, encourage people back onto our high-streets and crack down on dodgy operators who use aggressive tactics to harass drivers.”

The British Standards Institution will prepare the Code in consultation with consumer and industry groups. Members of the public will be given a chance to have their say via a full public consultation.

Is expensive parking killing the high street?

Expensive high-street parking

The dwindling popularity of the local high street among shoppers is often blamed on the rise of online shopping. Now, however, expensive parking is copping some of the flack for the decline of local in-person shopping.

Even compared to a year ago, shoppers are spending less time on the high street. This, according to research by YourParkingSpace. Four in ten said they shop less frequently compared to last year, while one in ten said that the high street was just a once-yearly visit.

Expensive high-street parking

While 40 percent cited the ease of online shopping as a reason they don’t venture out, expensive parking came in as the second-biggest factor. Seventeen percent of respondents said that pricey parking put them off heading into town for a shopping visit.

However, cars are still the most popular way to get there, with over half saying they drive into town. That compares with just 12 percent that say they take the bus.

In spite of their aversion to it, respondents did seem optimistic about the future of the British high street. Three in ten said that would adapt and ultimately survive these trying times.

Parking for less

Expensive high-street parking

“Many British high streets have suffered a hard time recently, with small independent traders and large department stores all feeling the pinch,” said Harrison Woods, managing director at YourParkingSpace. 

“With most people driving to the high street, it’s no surprise that parking is a contentious issue. What they might not realise is that there are cheaper alternatives.”

There are a number of ways you can avoid extortionate parking costs. All it takes is a little bit of pre-planning. Research local parking vendors to find the cheapest locations. If you’re lucky, you might find spots local to your high street that are free. Failing that, you could hire a driveway.