British motorists are handed 900,000 parking tickets every month, racking up fines totalling £30 million a year.
A study of Freedom of Information requests sent to 434 councils across the UK found that the number of fines handed out monthly has risen four per cent from last year.
Councils now hand out an average of 162 parking tickets a day, compared to 154 in 2012. But while traffic wardens in London were the busiest, motorists in Moray received the fewest parking tickets, averaging less than one ticket a day – 113 in just six months, according to the research by insurance firm LV=.
“Parking rules vary in each council area and it is easy to get caught out when you don’t know the restrictions,” said John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance. “Getting a ticket can be very expensive and often take months to reverse.”
According to the FOI requests, Aberdeen City Council clocked up 43,563 parking tickets in the first half of 2013 – compared to just 49,261 for the whole of the previous year. However, Edinburgh Council has issued fewer than half the number of tickets in the first six months of 2013 than in 2012, at just 87,894.
Glasgow Council, which had a reduction in the number of tickets issued in 2011 compared to 2012, failed to give up-to-date figures for 2013.
While there has been a general increase across all council areas, there has been a significant spike in the number of tickets being issued on Sundays. Over 284,000 tickets were issued by parking wardens on Sundays between January and May this year.
“Parking on a Sunday is becoming increasingly difficult if you don’t know the local rules,” added Mr O’Roarke. “If in doubt, check the sign explaining the parking restrictions and if you are still unsure, try to park somewhere else.”
Drivers said that the main reasons for tickets they received were staying too long, leaving their car somewhere they thought they would not need a ticket – which applied to a quarter of those questioned – or forgetting to display a ticket. Common complaints among motorists were that signs explaining parking restrictions were often difficult to locate or to understand, and road markings were confusing.
Paul Watters, head of roads policy for the AA, said controlled parking zones, which mean that area-by-area rules apply, can confuse motorists, while technology has made it easier for traffic wardens to cover bigger areas.
“It assumes you have seen a sign as you enter an area, which in busy traffic isn’t always possible,” he said. “It also assumes you are familiar with the rules of that particular council and if not, you’ve not got a hope of knowing what the restrictions are. People are getting a bit fed-up with it and feel they are being milked of their money.”
“Many of the penalties are mistakes and not deliberate non-compliance,” added Mr Watters. “The authorities often lose sight of that.”
Of 2,000 motorists surveyed, four in ten presumed that the same parking rules applied everywhere.