Parent-child parking confusion

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Drivers across the UK are wrongly taking advantage of parent and child parking spaces, leaving mums and dads battling to find spaces with young children in tow.

An new investigation by reveals that one in four parent and child parking spaces in the UK are being misused.

Researchers monitored dedicated spaces in supermarkets to find a shocking number of people misusing them – in fact, 26 per cent of bays were used by people without a child.

And isn’t the only witness to this behaviour. Seven in 10 UK drivers have seen a parent and child parking space being misused.

Further research has found that there’s confusion around the use of parent and child parking bays.

People don’t know if they can park in them regardless of whether they have a child with them or how old does the child has to be before stopping using the spaces.

Almost one in six of drivers say the rules around parent and child parking bays are confusing.

To clear up this confusion, has compiled the guidelines for some of the top UK supermarkets so people can be confident they’re adhering to the rules.

One in 10 drivers who don’t have children under the age of 12 and weren’t travelling with a child at the time, admit to using a parent-dedicated bay. But confusion around the issue can’t always be blamed, as many seem to have motivation for flouting the rules.

The misuse and confusion about parent and child parking bays is having a real impact on parents.

Like disabled parking bays, parent and child parking spaces offer drivers with young children extra space and a spot closer to the store.

This is to give them room to access car seats or buggies without the risk of smashing into the car next door, or to make crossing the road with young children that bit safer.

But despite this very valid reason for having dedicated parking, nearly a third of parents with a child under the age of 12 were forced to leave a car park because all of the dedicated parking spaces were taken. But when leaving isn’t an option, parents have no choice but to find a standard parking space. In fact, nearly two thirds noticed someone misusing a parent and child parking space, which led to them having to park elsewhere or struggle to get their child out of the car due to lack of space.

But this isn’t the only struggle they face when parking in standard spaces, as their child’s safety can also be at risk.

One in four parents who had to park elsewhere witnessed a car speeding, which put their child at risk. Nearly one in three even had to carry their child across the car park because of traffic.

Given the seriousness of some of the situations struggling parents have faced, there are many drivers out there who want to see culprits penalised.

In fact, more than one in five are confused as to why car parks don’t fine drivers for taking advantage of parent-child parking spaces. A further one in four think all private car parks should issue fines to drivers who misuse a parent and child parking bay.

However, the issue doesn’t always lie with the culprits, as half of parents don’t think the parent and children parking facilities in their local supermarket are adequate. And this is echoed in the fact that more than one in four have left a car park because there weren’t any dedicated parking spaces at all.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, said: “Parents face battles every day and trying to find parking at the local shop shouldn’t be one of them. And this is something I‘ve experienced myself with my own children.

“What is clear is if you aren’t travelling with a child you shouldn’t be parking in the dedicated spaces and instead save these for the mums and dads out there who need the space.

“For us parents, knowing the point at which we should be giving up these spaces is quite confusing. How old is too old for our children to be using a dedicated space? To help parents out, we’ve spoken to some of the top supermarkets on their rules to create a handy guide to parent and child parking.

“If you see someone wrongly using a parent and child parking space, you can report it using the details in our guide.”