Ten ‘secret’ parking offences you probably never knew you were committing

We all know that parking on the likes of double yellows and zig-zags is likely to attract a penalty notice – or worse – but there are many less obvious violations you might not even be aware of.

You might have been committing these ‘offences’ for years without problems, but with figures revealing there are now 151 vehicles per mile on UK roads compared to just 119 vehicles in 2000, enforcement officers and cops are likely to start being less tolerant.

How many of these parking offences are you aware of?

1) Not turning on parking lights

Did you know that rule 249 of Highway Code requires you illuminate your parking lights when stopped on a road where the speed limit is over 30mph? This also applies if you’re parked in a lay-by.

What’s the penalty: Failure to comply with rules of the Highway Code will not, in itself trigger a prosecution; it may be used as evidence in court proceedings under traffic acts to establish liability. In reality, this means you could face hefty fines or even disqualification in the event of an accident caused by your parking.

2) Placing bins or cones in the road outside your home

It might seem only right and proper that we should be able to park outside our own homes, but the law doesn’t agree. Reserving a space on a public highway, using the likes of cones and wheelie bins, is an offence and could land you in bother.

What’s the penalty: Obstructing public roads is an offence under the Highways Act and offenders can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100. As with many such offences, how likely you are to receive a penalty depends on your local authority. Regardless of location, persistent offenders who illegally block off parking should expect a fine.

3) Parking on a pavement

Popping a couple of wheels on the kerb or pavement can help create a parking space and allow other vehicles to pass by without being obstructed. However, pavements are for pedestrians and rule 244 of the Highway Code states you should only mount the pavement when crossing to a driveway, or if signs state it is allowed. This rule is particularly relevant in Greater London.

What’s the penalty: If you park on the pavement in London, you can be fined £70. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 English and Welsh councils, is asking for authorities to be given the same powers. Additionally, if parking on the pavement causes an accident, the fact that you’ve ignored the Highway Code can be used as evidence in court proceedings under traffic acts to establish liability. This could then result in fines.

4) Parking more than 19inches from the kerb

Leaving a ‘taxi-ride’ between your car and kerb when parking can obstruct the highway and cause problems for other road users – including cyclists and emergency vehicles.

What’s the penalty: National parking laws came into force in 2009 allowing councils to issue fines against motorists who park cars more than 19 inches from the kerb, but enforcement is up to the local authority. Exceed this limit and you could face a £70 fine.

5) Parking near a resident’s driveway

So, how much space does a driver need to get out of their drive? Can you park over a few foot of it if there’s still enough space for them to get in or out? The answer is made easier, because it’s not down to your judgement at all, but actually where the dropped kerb is located. You must not park your wheels over a dropped kerb – this includes those intended to help pedestrians and those providing access to driveways etc. However, if a driveway does not have a dropped kerb, it may not be legal and parking across it would be allowed.

What’s the penalty: Authorities will be reluctant to take action against a vehicle parked in front of a driveway unless reported by the resident – the owner might have an agreement with the driver. However, if you have a problem with this sort of nuisance parking, you should report it to your local authority. Offenders could be fined around £70 depending on location.

6) Parking within 10metres of a junction

Leaving your car close to a junction makes it difficult and dangerous for unsighted drivers to pull out from or turn into the side road. Pedestrians can also be put at risk because of the restricted view this type of inconsiderate parking causes. Rule 243 of the Highway Code states you must not park opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space.

What’s the penalty: It is possible you will get a non-endorsable fixed penalty of £50–£100 for causing an unnecessary obstruction. If an accident occurs it’s likely you’ll be taking a large proportion of the blame – and be fined accordingly.

7) Parking in a bus lane to let an emergency vehicle pass

You could be helping to save lives, but the bus lane cameras don’t always care about that. However, stopping appears to be a better idea than keeping moving as the emergency vehicle passes. This defence was highlighted as plausible in the 2013 case of Doctor Catherine Berry, a lecturer in cell engineering, who received and challenged a £60 fine for pulling into one of the city’s a bus lanes to make way for a fire engine on blue lights.

What’s the penalty: Fines for bus-lane incursions are set locally, but in Greater London you’ll be fined £130 and typically £60 outside metropolitan areas.

8) Parking towards oncoming traffic at night

Did you know you have to park your car in the direction of the traffic flow? Parking with the front of your car facing oncoming traffic on a busy route is asking for trouble. Rule 248 of the Highway Code states: ‘”You MUST NOT park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space.” This is because your rear light reflectors would not be seen by fast traffic approaching from behind – increasing the risk of an accident.

What’s the penalty: Legislation covers this, so a fixed penalty could be placed on your vehicle. Again, in the event of an accident, your failure to comply with the Highway Code rule (248) may be used as evidence in court proceedings under traffic acts to establish liability.

9) Putting rocks or posts on verges to stop parking

Many residents do this to prevent motorists spoiling verges and obstructing roads. However, most verges will be council owned, so taking matters into your own hands by placing objects on the verge is unlawful.

What’s the penalty: If items are spotted on verges, the local authority will most likely request they are removed. Failing that, it will ask contractors to do it for them – and pass the cost on to you. You could also be sued for damage caused to vehicles parking on the verge. However, if it is a persistent problem that is obstructing the highway or pavement, ask the council to install some official posts.

10) ‘Parking’ a skip or pile of top soil etc, on the road outside your house

Planning a bit of building work or landscaping? Don’t think you can just plonk a skip or other materials in the road outside your house. There are strict rules around skips and building materials. Your skip will need a permit and proper safety equipment attached.

What’s the penalty: The firm you get the skip from should handle all the permits, but if you book from a rogue operator, you could be inline for an £1,000 fine. Also, you could be responsible for compensation and criminal matters arising from any accident involving the skip.


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