• Two million parents and 1.26 million Blue Badge holders have given up and gone home because they couldn’t find a parking space
  • One in six (17 per cent) drivers have been caught parking in a space they shouldn’t have been
  • Nearly two fifths of motorists admit they would use a spot that wasn’t designated to them if no other spaces were available

New research1 from Churchill Motor Insurance reveals inconsiderate motorists are stopping millions of drivers parking in designated priority spaces.  In the last 12 months alone, 7.8 million parents (64 per cent) have been prevented from parking in ‘parent and child’ bays by motorists without kids that wanted to take advantage of the convenience of these spaces. The research reveals 3.9 million parents had to find an alternative space further away, while two million simply gave up and went home.

Blue Badge holders are also finding it increasingly difficult to find a parking space, with almost two million (77 per cent) unable to leave their car in a designated bay because it was filled by a thoughtless driver that didn’t qualify to park there. 1.11 million Blue Badge users have had to park further away from their destination than anticipated because someone was parked in a designated disabled bay. A further 700,000 had to give up and go home as a result of someone without a Blue Badge parking in a designated space.

One in six (17 per cent) drivers have been caught parking in a space they shouldn’t use. Some of the methods in which people were caught included a note on their windscreen, Penalty Charge Notice, being approached by a member of the public or a car park employee. Anyone caught parking in a disabled bay without a Blue Badge or misusing one could get a £1,000 fine and have the Blue Badge confiscated2.

Despite the issues that parking in a disabled or parent and child bay causes those in need of them, a large proportion of Brits think it is acceptable to park in these spaces. A third (33 per cent) of people think it is acceptable to park in a parent and child spot despite not having a young child with them at the time and 23 per cent believe a disabled bay is fair game even if they don’t have a Blue Badge.  A further 32 per cent feel it is acceptable to park in restricted parking areas such as on double yellow or crossed and zig-zag lines.

The most common locations motorists park in using spaces not dedicated for them are on residential streets, in supermarket car parks or other retail shops (24 per cent), at a bar, or restaurant (21 per cent), hotel or on the high street (20 per cent) or even in a hospital car park (18 per cent).

Table one: Places people are most likely to park in spaces not dedicated for them

Location Share of drivers likely to park here if nowhere else was available Number of drivers likely to park here if nowhere else was available
On a residential street 24 per cent 8.9m
Supermarket car park 24 per cent 8.9m
Retail shop car park 24 per cent 8.6m
In the car park of a pub, bar or restaurant 21 per cent 7.8m
A multi-story car park 21 per cent 7.6m
At a hotel car park 20 per cent 7.5m
On the high street 20 per cent 7.4m
At a hospital car park 18 per cent 6.7m
In any location 37 per cent 13.5m

Source: Churchill Motor Insurance 2020

People are prepared to park in restricted bays during unsociable hours when they think the space wouldn’t be required (20 per cent) and when they are only parking for a short amount of time (10 per cent). Motorists are also prepared to inconvenience vulnerable motorists just because they are in a rush, don’t think traffic wardens are patrolling, or simply because a bay is empty when they arrive to park.

On average Brits think it is acceptable to park in disabled bays for less than 15 minutes, while the ‘acceptable’ time for parent and child bays is 14 minutes and non-designated areas, such as loading bay or yellow lines, eight minutes.

Jane Morgan, Marketing Manager for Churchill car insurance, commented: “Finding a parking space can  cause  stress at the best of times, however this can be made a million times worse for parents with young children and Blue Badge holders if they are unable to park in an adequate space closer to their destination which has been specifically designed for them.

“We would urge motorists to think about the consequences of their actions if they choose to park in a space they don’t need. The last thing families with young children or people with disabilities need when visiting locations is to worry if they will be able to park.”