Millions of British motorists have escaped parking fines, despite knowingly being in the wrong. At least, that's the conclusion reached by car insurer Sheilas’ Wheels, following a survey into our parking habits.
Parking (not) fine
Last month, Sheilas' Wheels and market researchers FlyResearch interviewed more than a thousand British adults to find out about their parking habits.
Sheilas' Wheels found that, in the past year, one in 10 sneaky drivers (10%) was caught parking illegally, while hoping to dodge a fine or parking warden. What's more, one in 12 Brits (8%) successfully appealed a fine, despite knowingly being in the wrong.
When it comes to dodging regulations, Londoners seem to be the least honest, with one in six (17%) contesting parking tickets even when they knew they were in the wrong.
This research also found that more than a fifth of drivers (22%) believe that flouting parking regulations doesn't count as breaking the law. In the north east, this proportion climbs to nearly a third, so a large minority of Geordies do not believe that flouting parking rules counts as breaking the law.
[Related feature: How to avoid costly car fines]
Men were more dishonest when dodging regulations, with one in nine (11%) admitting that they often park illegally.
Sneakily, 11% of men have left a parking ticket stuck to their windscreen so that they can park illegally again without being stung with a second fine. Only 3% of women had used this ticket trick.
However, in our defence, many of us are puzzled by parking regulations. Nearly two in five drivers (39%) admitted to often being confused by parking rules, with a quarter (25%) choosing to completely ignore regulations during weekends and bank holidays.
In addition, 15% of motorists told Sheilas' Wheels that they regularly parked illegally, because it was easier to risk fines than to buy tickets or find somewhere else to park.
Other parking tricks include regularly parking in customer-only parking spaces, despite not being a customer, which 7% of us admit to. Another 5% revealed that they often park on single yellow lines, while 13% of drivers get their children to look out for parking wardens while adults are away from the car.
Despite all these tricks and ruses, Sheilas' Wheels found that one in seven British drivers (14%) spent up to £100 paying parking fines in the previous 12 months.
Top excuses not to pay
Some motorists are much better at beating the system than others, especially those repeat offenders who know the system and look for loopholes.
According to Sheilas' Wheels, these are the top five excuses drivers have used in the recent past to avoid paying parking tickets:
The regulations were not clear (9%);
I was gone only briefly (6%);
I was looking for a ticket machine (5%);
I had a personal emergency (4%); and
My ticket went missing (3%).
The first excuse is fair enough: If parking rules are unclear, then any implied contract between driver and parking firm cannot be upheld and, therefore, any fine is invalid. Likewise, if you leave your vehicle and return within the stipulated time limit (usually two minutes), then you should escape scot-free.
However, most parking rules state that you must clearly display a valid ticket inside your vehicle. If you fail to do this, or lose your ticket, then the weight of evidence is against you. Nevertheless, appealing the decision by producing a valid ticket will often win you a pardon.
Appeal and win
Each year, over eight million parking fines are issued, which nearly works out at one for every three UK households. As a result, councils make around £500 million a year from parking penalties, which comes to £15 per driver per year.
Then again, standing firm by appealing a penalty often proves successful. Indeed, a survey by Which? found that more than half (57%) of all formal appeals against parking fines are successful.
In fact, in roughly half of successful appeals, the council or private operator didn't even bother to submit a defence. Thus, if you've made an honest mistake or been treated unfairly, then your fine stands a good chance of being cancelled on appeal.
If you need extra help with appealing against a parking penalty, Which? has a guide and there is more information on your rights on the Directgov site.
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