Parking your car anywhere away from home can be an expensive business.
But the extortionate hourly rates charge by some car parks can seem small compared to the fines you face if you are caught breaking the rules by a traffic warden.
The rules around yellow lines, red lines, loading zones and more can be confusing and are made more complicated by various exemptions and exclusions.
To try to make sense of what the different road markings mean and explain just where and when you can park, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about parking on public roads.
Parking on double yellow lines
Unless you hold a disabled parking permit you cannot park on double yellow lines.
The Highway Code states: “Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs.”
A few areas have special exclusions that allow you to park on the lines at certain times but these will be clearly displayed on street signage. If you can’t see a sign, play it safe and assume the parking ban is in place all day every day.
Disabled badge holders are allowed to park on double yellow lines for up to three hours as long as they are not causing an obstruction.
Read more: How to appeal a parking ticket
In some cases you can also stop to load or unload heavy or bulky goods but there may be other road markings indicating this also isn’t allowed (see below).
Parking on single yellow lines
Single yellow lines indicate areas where parking is prohibited at certain times.
There are no set rules about when single yellow line restrictions operate and the limits can vary street by street as well as between towns and cities.
Often restrictions will apply at peak hours or on weekdays but there should be signs at the kerbside indicating exactly when waiting is and isn’t allowed. In some controlled parking zones there are simply signs at the start of the zone rather than on every street.
If the sign doesn’t indicate the days on which the restrictions operate they are in place at the same time every day of the week.
As with double yellows, loading and loading heavy items may be permitted but check for the kerb dashes indicating this isn’t the case.
Even where there are no lines on the road loading and unloading may be prohibited. Look out for two short yellow lines or ‘dashes’ running down the kerb, which means no loading/unloading at any time. A single yellow line on the kerb indicates limited loading and unloading times, which will be signposted nearby.
Red lines are used on some roads instead of yellow lines, often along bus routes or other public transport arteries.The double and single red lines used on ‘red routes’ in cities such as London, Edinburgh and Birmingham indicate that stopping to park, load/unload or drop off passengers is prohibited. Like yellow lines, a double red means no stopping at any time while a single red means there are specific times when stopping is allowed.
There may be specific spaces marked within red routes for parking or loading but always check the restrictions carefully by referring to roadside signs.
Some people assume that parking restrictions don’t apply on bank holidays or on weekends but they are mistaken. Unless there signs specifically mention this, the restrictions are enforced even if it is a public holiday.
Blue Badge holders
Blue Badge holders are allowed more leniency when it comes to parking restrictions.
They are allowed to park on double or single yellow lines for up to three hours as long as they don’t park within 15 metres of a junction or where there are loading/unloading restrictions.
They cannot park on red lines, except outwith restricted times.
Remember, these guidelines apply to markings on public roads. The same rules don’t necessarily apply in private car parks and streets not adopted by the local authority.