There is little doubt that parking near school entrances is dangerous. Unfortunately, messy traffic regulations make it unclear whether drivers are permitted to stop on zig zag lines or not.
Parking outside schools: Is it legal to stop on yellow zig zag signs?
You would assume so, but the law is far from clear. Yellow zig zag lines outside schools that have signs listing hours of operation will be enforced legally by the local council, which will use of camera cars, CCTV or parking wardens to issue a penalty charge notice. The hours stated usually relate to drop off and pick up times, but outside these windows, drivers are legally permitted to park on the yellow zig zag lines – unless the presence of single or double yellow indicate otherwise. Double yellow lines indicate no stopping at any time.
Yellow zig zag lines without signs simply advise motorists not to wait or park on them. The local authority does not have the power to issue a penalty charge notice, but to confuse matters even more, the police can issue a ticket for causing an obstruction to either other traffic or pedestrians.
For clarity, and to safeguard childrens’ lives, zig zag lines should all be used in conjunction with double yellow lines. Such a move would reduce the need for people to take matters into their own hands. Child-shaped bollards that give the impression they are about to cross the road were an attempt by Leicester council to slow drivers as they passed local schools. The steel mannequins cost £350 each and were placed outside Avenue Primary School to help enforce a 20 mph speed limit. The danger faced by the children was highlighted by the fact that one of these bollards was soon knocked over.
Direct action to tackle dangerous parking outside schools
Community groups in America placed tethered helium-filled balloons in the middle of streets where children play. In New York curbs were unofficially extended using concrete to slow traffic on corners. In this country, villagers have built imitation speed cameras to slow approaching cars. For our part here at the ETA, we helped a group of parents campaign for a zebra crossing by building a DIY version.
The pop-up zebra crossing drew enough attention to prompt the local council to install and real one. The design has since evolved to become an inflatable zebra crossing.
How do you stop dangerous and illegal parking outside schools?
We have learned that the parking regulations governing zig zag lines outside schools are far from clear, and if you spend any time at all outside a school at peak times you will have witnessed the inconsiderate behaviour of many drivers – many of whom are parents themselves. So what can you do if you witness a car waiting on zig zag lines? Explaining to the offending motorist that stopping outside a school causes an obstruction will mortify your children and may fall on deaf ears, but if the car is parked on a zebra crossing, it’s just plain dangerous. Taking a photo of the car will usually prompt the driver to move it. Little will they know that the local council and police can do little with such evidence.
If you have an idea for how the parking regulations around schools could be simplified or enforced – the more imaginative the better – then please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
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