The Rules Around Parent and Child Parking Spaces
Know the UK rules of using parking spaces designated for parents and children
We’ve all seen them, and many of us may have used them, but if you’re yet to have a need for one, you may be wondering what the rules around parent and child parking spaces are.
Common in large car parks, such as those attached to a supermarket, it can be somewhat ambiguous as to who can and can’t park in them, so we’ve done some research and we’re here to reveal the rules on parent and child parking spaces.
What is a parent and child parking space?
Located close to store doors to prevent having to cross more of the busy car park than is necessary, parent and child are bays that are larger than regular spaces, and clearly marked by a depiction of a parent and child (or pram). You'll sometimes find that they're shaded pink too.
The larger dimensions make sense for the inevitable logistics of taking a child to a large shop; negotiating bulky items like pushchairs and trolleys whilst keeping eyes on your little ones is no easy job, as any parent or guardian knows! These spaces are around 2.4 metres wide, and bordered by hatched markings to give a little more wiggle room (and safe space for children to be) around the car.
Who can use a parent and child parking space?
Whilst there is wide speculation as to who should and shouldn’t be able to park in a parent and child parking space, the rules are actually fairly simple; they are only for use by parents or guardians who are taking a child under 12 into the shop with them. The age is set at 12 as this is the age up to which child restraints, such as child car seats, must be used whilst travelling with children.
If you’re going in alone and leaving a child with another adult in the car, you should use an ordinary parking space.
Can you use a parent and child parking space if you’re pregnant?
This is where the rules can get a little muddy, because whether a pregnant person can use a parent and child space is up to car park owners individually. If in doubt, pop in and talk to someone in charge, as they’ll be able to advise you if you’re breaking any rules or not.
Is it illegal to park in a parent and child parking space?
No, there is no law against parking in a parent and child parking space without a child under 12 with you, but you are risking a PCN (Parking Charge Notice), the same as if you incorrectly used a disabled parking bay. This is because the car parks are usually owned privately, for example, by supermarkets, and so they enforce rules allowed by their Accredited Trade Association (ATA) status.
If you’re confused as to the rules in a particular car park, it’s worth checking with the store or destination that you’re parking at, so that you don’t risk a fine, which could be up to £100, being slapped on your windscreen.
Almost 1 in 10 motorists in the UK have admitted to parking their car in a parent and child parking space, despite not having a child under 12 with them at the time!
What should you do if someone’s parked in a parent and child parking space who shouldn’t have?
Frustrating as it is that someone who doesn’t need the extra room and safety that such close proximity to the store provides has used a parent and child parking space, it’s best not to directly confront the motorist in question. Instead, head into the store and report to a manager, who can then deal with the situation according to the car park rules.
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