PARENT and child parking spaces are designed to make life easier for motorists with young families.
But the convenient bays can prove costly for drivers who don’t understand the rules.
Mostly found close to the entrance of shops or facilities, the larger bays are usually part of a private car park – meaning the company can set their own conditions of use.
Earlier this year, a mum-of-three was fined £260 for using one of the spaces simply because she didn’t take her kids out of the car with her.
The parking firm claimed she “didn’t require the extra space” the bay offered as she wasn’t unloading her vehicle.
So what are the rules when it comes to parent and child parking spaces?
Is it illegal to park in a parent and child space without kids?
Using one of these bays without kids in the car isn’t illegal as they are usually on private land.
But private firms can slap you with a fine if you misuse one.
Car parks are required to clearly display their rules for the use of parent and child spaces, along with the potential penalty if you break them.
Some spots will require you to take kids out of the car with you to be eligible, while others state kids must be using a booster seat if you want to park in one.
You should always read the rules at each car park before leaving your motor in one of these spaces.
Is there a fine?
Private firms can issue you with a Parking Charge Notice of as much as £100 for misusing a parent and child space.
As this is essentially a breach of contract dispute, you may then choose to dispute the fine with the parking company.
But this can be a lengthy process, and still see you fork out money for the incident.
How old can my child be for me to use a parent’s space?
Each store has their own rules, but most have an age limit of 12-years-old.
This is probably aligned with similar age requirements for the use of child restraints and car seats.
But in some car parks, the spaces are only reserved for parents with babies and toddlers.
Tim Alcock of LeaseCar.uk said: “Mums and dads will naturally enjoy using parent and child parking spaces that are more comfortable to park in and in an area closer to a shop’s entrance.
“Unfortunately, the rules can be a little more complex than the name suggests and it can be all too easy to get caught out, landing yourself in hot water or taking a hit in the pocket.
“The number one piece of advice if you’re considering using a parent and child parking space is to have your child with you and to take your child with you in-store.
“Read a car park’s signage, note the terms and conditions of using a parking there and then follow the stated rules.
“If you realise you’ve parked improperly, it’s important to move your vehicle to a more appropriate space as soon as possible to avoid being issued with an unnecessary parking charge notice.
“I would recommend that if you’re not sure of the rules in a particular location and your accompanying child is capable of walking slightly further across the car park, that parking in an alternative space would be the best course of action to take.”