Essential guidance on traffic signs and road markings that relate to parking.
Traffic signs play a vital role in directing, informing and controlling road users’ behaviour to make the roads as safe as possible for everyone. This makes knowledge of traffic signs essential, not just for new drivers or riders needing to pass their theory test, but for all road users, including experienced professional drivers.
On-street parking signage
Many parking bays are free, some have time limits, some require a permit, and others will need to be paid for. Some may specify a particular type of vehicle only.
In all cases your vehicle must be parked entirely within the bay markings; otherwise you may receive a parking ticket, even if other vehicles were poorly parked when you arrived. If your vehicle is too large to fit in the bay there is also a possibility that you will receive a parking ticket. You should try to find a bay where your vehicle does fit.
It is common for restrictions to apply on particular days of the week or only during the main part of the day. Outside the times shown, you may park free of charge. If there are no days or times shown on the signs for the bays, the need to abide by the requirements shown on the signs apply at all times.
In some areas you may be able to park free of charge for a short period, but then you must pay to park for longer. Often you must obtain a ticket from the nearby machine even for the free parking period.
Local signs will explain if, when, where and how to pay. Payment methods may include making a phone call or sending a text message, in which case you should ensure that you have received confirmation that your payment has been successful.
Red and Yellow Lines:
Lines along the side of the road are used to show where restrictions on stopping and waiting apply. Red lines are currently only used in the London, West Midlands and Edinburgh areas, but are likely to appear in other locations in the future.
A double red line means no stopping for any purpose at any time. Except in an emergency or to set down or pick up a disabled person.
A single red line has the same meaning, but only applies at the times stated on the signs that face the moving traffic.
Single and double yellow lines control waiting. Even where waiting is prohibited, if you can do so safely you may set down and pick up passengers and may also stop to load or unload goods unless this is prohibited by short yellow kerb marks or ‘blips’.
A double yellow line means no waiting at any time.
A single yellow line means no waiting during the time specified either on nearby time plates or on zone entry signs if you are in a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ).
Parking on the footway:
Vehicles should not normally be parked wholly or partly on verges and footways because doing so causes an obstruction and a danger to pedestrians, people with disabilities, children and other vulnerable people.
It is unlawful to park on the footway anywhere in London and some other cities.
It is sometimes allowed on certain narrow streets where parked vehicles would not cause an obstruction to pedestrians and others. In those places signs are displayed containing this symbol (or a similar symbol showing the car entirely on the footway or verge).
School Keep Clear markings:
School Keep Clear markings mean no stopping during the time and days specified on adjacent or nearby signs. The markings help prevent vehicles from parking near or in front of school entrances, to ensure safe access for children and parents.
In the UK, the following types of zones are in use:
- Controlled Parking Zones (or CPZ): where waiting and loading is restricted for some or all of the time.
- Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ): this has a waiting restriction and possibly also a loading restriction throughout the zone even though there are no yellow lines or kerb ‘blips’. The times during which it operates are stated on the zone entry signs and on signs within the zone. In some RPZs bays will be marked where you may park or load, depending upon the conditions stated on an adjacent sign.
- Permit Parking Area (PPA): this is an area where you must have the stated type of permit in order to park during its hours of operation on the signs, and you must display the permit even though there are no bays or other road markings. Occasionally, the entry signs may indicate that there are bays marked within the PPA that have different conditions.
- Pedestrian Zones: these are areas that you may not enter during their operational hours. Even outside those times there is usually a waiting and loading restriction stated on the bottom panel of the entry sign and on repeater signs within the zone, but not shown with yellow lines or ‘loading blips’ to indicate this within the zone.
- Parking zones can be described differently, for example “Meter zone”, “Restricted zone”, “Disc zone”, “Voucher parking zone”, or “Pay & Display zone”.
This sign means no stopping and applies at all times.
Car park signage
As explained in How parking is managed, car parks can be provided and managed by either a local authority or by a private parking company on behalf of the landowner.
Parking on Private Land:
Car parks associated with supermarkets, hospitals, leisure centres, retail parks, shopping centres etc. are usually private land and parking is managed using the laws of contract or trespass.
Typically, a principal sign will be displayed near the entrance to the car park describing who the car park is for, and if there are time limits on how long it is possible to stay and details of any charges or free periods that may apply. Local signage in and around the car park may provide more information including how much you will be charged if you do not comply with any of the terms and conditions for using the car park.
Private parking operators who are members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) must adhere to a Code of Practice which provides guidance for size, placement and content of signs.
For more information on the signage required please see the Trade Association’s Code of Practice.
Local authority parking:
Car parks operated by local councils are generally regulated by law. Typically, a principle sign will be displayed near the entrance to the car park describing who the car park is for, and if there are time limits on how long it is possible to stay for and details of any charges or free periods that may apply. Local signage in and around the car park may provide more information. These car parks follow specific rules regarding the scale of any penalties for not complying with the regulations of parking there and usually but not always these will be advertised locally too.
Visit the GOV.UK website on parking.
Read up on waiting and parking in The Highway Code.
Know Your Traffic Signs published by the Department for Transport.
Safe Driving for Life:
Despatch blog for driver trainers and instructors.
The Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions (TSRGD) legislation can be read on the Gov.uk website along with the TSRGD 2016 Circular explaining the legislation and further information and advice can be found in the Traffic Signs Manual, Chapter 3.