Pci Tech

Are You Misusing Parent and Child Parking Bays?

Most parents will know how difficult it is to manoeuvre their children and a pushchair or trolley around a regular-sized parking space. That’s why supermarkets across the country have designated ‘parent and child’ spaces, which are usually wider and closer to shop entrances – making it easier to load up and unload the car with kids in tow. But it seems some drivers aren’t fully aware of the rules on using these bays and may be slapped with a fine when they misuse them.

Often marked with a painted symbol of a parent and a child, these larger parent and child parking bays are designed to give parents plenty of extra room to lift their children and shopping into the car. They’re also normally located close to shop entrances, so they’re easy for shoppers to access. But it seems some drivers aren’t completely aware of the rules on using these bays – and may be slapped with hefty fines when they misuse them.

A mother-of-two was recently hit with a PS260 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) for parking in one of these spaces without having her kids in the car. The mum-to-be explained that she was nine months pregnant at the time and needed the extra space to load up her shopping and get back into her car – but that didn’t stop her being handed the penalty notice.

But it’s not just pregnant drivers who are being targeted with parking tickets for misusing parent and child spaces. Another motorist took to TikTok to describe how she was fined by her local Sainsbury’s for using a parent and child space when she didn’t have children with her. Her story went viral, with many arguing that she should have been given a warning instead of a fine.

While some argue that there should be a uniform rule on who can use these spaces, it’s actually up to each individual car park owner to set the terms. The RAC recommends speaking to each outlet’s customer services team and asking them about their rules, as they’re likely to have specific terms surrounding the use of these bays.

In most cases, these will state that the spaces are only for parents or guardians who have one or more children aged 12 years or under in their vehicle. This should be clear enough for most, but some stores are more strict than others. For example, a man from Cheshire recently told national newspapers that he parks his Chrysler in the spaces reserved for parents at his local Sainsbury’s because he believes it would get dents from old grannies if he parked elsewhere. Others, like Morrisons and Waitrose, have staff who patrol their stores to ask people to move their vehicles if they’re not using the spaces correctly.