Parent and child parking bay rules to avoid getting fined

Parent and child parking bays can help when trying to get youngsters out of cars, but is there a maximum age limit for kids and can you get fined for using them without children.

Here we take a look at the rules to help drivers keep to the rules when using these bays for parents with kids.

A woman attempts to remove her child from a car in a tight parking spaceParent and child parking bays are designed to help mums, dads and carers with children in car parks - but what are the rules for using them?  (Credit: Pexels)

What are parent and child parking bays?

Typically located shopping centres and town centre car parks, parent and child parking bays come with extra space between cars to help parents get kids out – for example if they have a baby seat. This will help them get the seat out without bashing other vehicles.

They are usually located close to shop entrances to help parents get their kids to safety as rapidly as possible – and not force them to walk all the way through a busy car park.

Is there an age limit for kids when using a parent child parking bay?

With the majority of these spaces located in private car parks belonging to stores, there are no standard rules – leaving the site owner to decide.

Make sure you read any signs that have been placed on the site, which will typically explain all of the car park’s rules. These should include any restrictions on age for child parking bays.

It is usually accepted that bays are provided for use by parents who have children aged12 or under – but some stores will reserve them exclusively for use by parents of babies and toddlers.

Can I be fined for using a child and parent bay?

Any car park that has enforcement in operation is required to clearly display all the rules and restrictions that apply to the car park in question.

While using a parent and child bay will not be viewed as a legal offence, if the private car park has clearly stated restrictions for using a child parking bay and you contravene them, you could be fined.

However, if there are no signs displaying the rules, it is unlikely that you would need to pay the fine.

What if I receive a ‘fine’ for stopping in a parent and child parking bay?

If you return to a vehicle to find a Parking Charge Notice plastered on your windscreen, you should take photos of any signage etc. if you believe there were no restrictions stated – or that you abided by the rules.

Additionally, you should check If the firm that issued the charge notice is registered. If not, it will not be able to legitimately use official channels to find out who owns the vehicle – so you may not need to respond to the ticket. However, this could increase the risk of your charge being increased if the firm is registered.

Use these links to see if the firm is a registered operator – if not they should not be able to access the DVLA register to find out who owns a car they have issued a charge to:

British Parking Association

International Parking Community

Or check the ticket with consumer champion Revolver

Can I leave my child in the car while I go into the store?

This is a contentious point, but most rules will require parents to take their child into the store when using a parent and child bay.

However, you will need to read the car park operator’s rules to find out if this is specifically covered. If not and you adhere to all the other rules, then you are likely to be free to do so.

Can you park in parent and child parking bays if pregnant?

There are no clear rules whether pregnant women can use these spaces as signs typically refer to parents with children.

If the child spaces are in public spaces, then ask the local authority, or if they are on private land - such as a supermarket - then approach the store own. 

Realistically, it is hard to imagine that a heavily pregnant woman would be issued with a parking ticket for using such a space - the public backlash would likely bring much adverse publicity. 

Is it breaking the law to park in a parent and child parking bay without kids?

Because these spaces are typically found in private car parks, it is not a matter for police or other official enforcement officers to deal with, so it is not illegal – but this does not mean you cannot receive a fine.

What do the supermarkets say about parent and child parking rules?

Tesco is quoted as saying its child bays are for customers with kids up to primary age - so this is likely to mean up to 12 years old.

Aldi has said that it does not enforce regulations or age limits around the bays, but relies on customers using them in the spirit intended.

Sainsbury's says it does not have a big problem with abuse of the child parking bays, but says they are intended for those with kids under 12.

However, it has said that its attendants will be prepared to issue a charge notice if someone refuses to move when asked. 

Asda says its spaces are for kids up to 12 - or any that need to use a booster seat. The store has also said it has dedicated staff to monitor the use of the bays to make sure they're available to those who need them.

Lidl does not actively patrol these bays, but relies on the honesty of customers to keep them available to parents with young children.

Waitrose has signs at some stores restricting the use of the parent and child parking bay to customers with small children. 

Morrisons has stated that staff will ask drivers to move there vehicle if using the bays incorrectly, or even leave a sign on the windscreen.

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