Parent-child parking bays causing confusion and anger in the North West

Drivers in the North West are wrongly taking advantage of parent and child parking spaces, leaving mums and dads battling to find spaces with young children in tow.

By Iain Lynn
Monday, 5th August 2019, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 5th August 2019, 2:58 pm
Parent and child spaces
Parent and child spaces

A new investigation by reveals that more than one in ten parent and child parking spaces in the North West are being misused.

Researchers monitored dedicated spaces in supermarkets to find a shameful number of people misusing them –in fact, 11% of bays were being used by people without a child.

Read More

Read More
10 of the strangest UK parking laws

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Parent and child spaces

Staggeringly, more than seven in ten (73%) drivers in the North West have witnessed a parent and child parking space being misused.

This is an issue that is widespread across the UK, as the investigation revealed one in four (26%) parent and child parking spaces are not being used correctly.

Further research has found that there’s confusion around the use of parent and child parking bays.

Can you park in them regardless of whether you have a child with you? How old does your child have to be before you have to stop using the spaces?

Almost one in six (16%) UK drivers say the rules around parent and child parking bays are confusing.

To clear up this confusion, has compiled the guidelines for some of the top UK supermarkets so people can be confident they’re adhering to the rules.

One in 10 (11%) UK drivers who don’t have children under the age of 12 and weren’t travelling with a child at the time admit to using a parent and child dedicated bay. But confusion around the issue can’t always be blamed, as many seem to have motivation for flouting the rules.

Top reasons for misusing a parent and child parking space

I couldn’t find another space (31%)

There were plenty of other parent and child spaces available (31%)

It was late at night and I didn’t think there would be any parents with children around (26%)

I was only using the space for a few minutes (22%)

I wanted to park close to the entrance (19%)

The misuse and confusion about parent and child parking bays is having a real impact on parents.

Like disabled parking bays, parent and child parking spaces offer drivers with young children extra space and a spot closer to the store.

This is to give them room to access car seats or buggies without the risk of smashing into the car next door, or to make crossing the road with young children that bit safer.

But despite this very valid reason for having dedicated parking, nearly a third (32%) of parents with a child under the age of 12 were forced to leave a car park because all of the dedicated parking spaces were taken.

But when leaving isn’t an option, parents have no choice but to find a standard parking space.

In fact, nearly two thirds (64%) noticed someone misusing a parent and child parking space, which led to them having to park elsewhere.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “Parents face battles every day and trying to find parking at the local shop shouldn’t be one of them. Although, given the number of people misusing parent and child parking spaces in the North West, no doubt that parents in the region are left without a suitable place to park.

“What is clear is if you aren’t travelling with a child you shouldn’t be parking in the dedicated spaces and instead save these for the mums and dads out there who need the space.

“For us parents, knowing the point at which we should be giving up these spaces is quite confusing. How old is too old for our children to be using a dedicated space? To help parents out, we’ve spoken to some of the top supermarkets on their rules to create a handy guide to parent and child parking.

“If you see someone wrongly using a parent and child parking space, you can report it using the details in our guide.”