Dangerous and illegal parking outside schools

parking outside schools

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.

parking outside schools

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.

traffic calming

Sometimes traffic calming means taking matters into your own hands

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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  1. Anthony


    Why should zigzag lines automatically be used with double yellow lines? I regularly park on a weekend on zigzags outside a school without causing any harm. They are not needed then. The article is quite right to highlight the dangers of school gate parking but we need to keep a sense of proportion.

  2. Jim Chisholm


    Your article is far from clear (& I’m not a lawyer…), and the situation is different in areas with and without Local Authority Parking Enforcement (LAPE). To be ‘ticketed’ on school zig-zags there must a Traffic Regulation Order, otherwise the only offence for which a charge can be made is ‘Obstruction’. This requires a full police officer, (not PCSO) and I’m told the police are often reluctant to charge as they often lose contested cases with much wasted police time. Few Local Authorities have blanket TROs outside all schools. With LAPE and no TRO, enforcing restrictions near schools will require BOTH a ‘Civil Enforcement Officer (for yellow lines) AND a police officer (for zig-zags) In addition without LAPE (& TROs) any fines go to Treasury… With LAPE and TROs penalty charge monies can be used to support enforcement (or some other transport related activities

  3. Ian Bye


    Traffic Regulation Orders are no longer needed – as of May 2016 – for the yellow lines to be enforceable. Signs stating their hours of operations are required for the zig zag lines to be enforceable. However, only relevant authorities can enforce these zig zag lines – the Police or a local authority. They don’t have the funds or staff to do so regularly. So you may get a purge, on the odd day, but no daily enforcement – putting pupils at risk on a daily basis. Daily enforcement is required. This may be achieved by allowing civil enforcement of yellow zig zag lines, as has happened with the decriminalisation of parking enforcement (DPE), which allows Councils to subcontract parking enforcement on the public highway.

  4. Steve Gregson


    Is there any reason why a school could not temporarily place cones on the zig zag area during the alloted times?

    What about parking on the white line opposite the yellow zig zags?

    • Michelle harris


      This is something I’d like to know too. I’m going to ring the police/council to find out. Also it might stop people driving over the zigzag lines to park on the grass verge at our school😣

      • David Fruin-stewart


        when parent egnore the rule suspend the child from school which will inconvenience the parent and make it longer each time they do it in this way they might thing twice

    • Rebecca Andrews


      In my area the parents will just push them out of the way or run them over. When the dust bins are out for collection parents they move them so they can park, often just pushing them, on to peoples driveways. I am seriously looking into CCTV for my driveway, even tho I am covered by the schools CCTV.

    • Laura


      We have this major issue at our school.
      Two a boards are placed over the yellow zig zags and they’ve been hit once and ran over twice!

    • Hilary Paton


      In our case its manpower to put out the cones, there are simply not enough staff to do this as well as their other duties at this time of day. Parent council member also are not freely available at the necessary times to put out cones, and we are reliably informed by police and council that they will be stolen so dont bother!

  5. Rebecca Andrews


    I live next to three schools, yes I choose to move there as my children went to these schools. Today someone actually broke my fence, the parents who know me (from our local library) put notes through my door, with all the details of the car etc…. The school bus couldn’t get in because parents park across the entrance. They give grieve to the site management because they want to park as close to the school as they can. They have no disregard for the safety of there own children’s lives let alone other peoples. Some of these parents only live round the corner or through the gap between streets but has to drive so there little dwarlings don’t get cold or wet. An ambulance couldn’t get in a child had seriously hurt themselves at the school college that is next door. I am dreading the day a child gets seriously hurt and I hope it’s not someone I know.

  6. Shay


    You can take a photo of taxis parking poorly and send it with an explainatory email to the minicab licensing department of your local council.

    They will tell them to stop or else no license next year, this works well, but only for taxis obviously.

    Its tough to confront people since its usually only the antisocial people who do it, therefore they’re likely to be antisocial when you speak to them!

  7. Linda Gibson


    I think rewarding the children with a star for walking the last 5 or 10 minutes to school might stop parents from parking outside a residents house etc and encourage the child to be a bit fitter.
    My neighbours and I have a problem with parents parking in our bays leaving us with nowhere to park. When we ask them to move we just get told there is no law that states this is our space.
    Elderbank Primary School have been no help either when I call them and the council don’t do anything either.

    • Hilary Paton


      Is there a parent council or PTA? Perhaps ask them, that is who helps in our school

  8. Alan Barnsley


    At Pendle junior school in Clitheroe Lancashire there have been problems with inconsiderate people dropping their children outside the school gates on yellow zig zag lines and double yellow lines that have a sign.
    Parents do not seem to care if a child gets injured, but will be the first to complain if it is their child that gets injured. Some of these parents would even park in the front office if they could.
    In Lancashire there is a serious policing problem due to governments cuts and due to lack of resources the police do not wish to get involved and just driven past a .couple of times and unfortunately not been able to witness some of the stupidity. The school has done what it can but gets no support. It is only a matter of time before a child is seriously injured outside that school.

  9. Dan Hopgood


    I started challenging parents who park on zig zags outside my son’s school as suggested above and wrote to the school saying I thought they could do more to help. This morning was told by the deputy head to stop harassing other parents as the Police would be taking an interest and that I needed to “be careful”. what a world!

    • The ETA


      Sorry to hear that, Dan. We’ll be in touch with you directly about this.

      • Dan Hopgood


        Update. I recently queried why the school administrator was taking a child to a school operated minibus parked on the road opposite school, where it was blocking a driveway and visibility to a junction, parked on double yellows. She thought that was OK. I wrote to the school Trust about that, plus the joint chair of the PTA who had been observed more than once parked on zig zags outside school. Response was nothing more than they’d had “a word” with the minibus driver and a repeat of the statement for me to stop harrassing people. I replied again that I thought the school could and should do more on road safety. I’m now using leaflets for those who are causing a nuisance rather than talking to them – and I spend as little time around the area as possible. I can’t help calling out such behaviour, but it seems I’m a lone voice at this school.

  10. christinacasswell


    cars should park in proper car parks for the safety of childrens etc

    • Dave


      How many car parks do you see out side schools?

  11. Dean Woodyatt


    Can’t we request schools put up a ‘loading zone’ sign and appropriate kerb markings
    can’t find a specific guide preventing that.
    it’s especially bad where there’s only ONE lane for traffic if anyone decides to park……..

    This way all the tens of blue badge holders will legally have to park ten car lengths away around the corner rather than blocking the road, bus stop and causing a traffic nuisance every day 🙁

    and, no, i’m not anti-blue badge holder, far from it.
    I do however get VERY annoyed watching people park up, walk over to the school, down to the playground then start playig ‘tag’ with their kids and running around care free…………whilst at the road, cars now have to mount the pavement where kids walk to pass…..
    its SELFISH….roll up five minutes earlier, secure a space.

  12. Anne peters


    I have just been issued my second PCN for parking on zig zag yellow lines outside of my sons school. The first one I got issued was in 2017, I appealed and they didn’t take it any further. This time , I appealed and lost. My argument was, that the lines are outside an old entrance/ exit and is no longer in use. The markings are nowhere near the current entrance / exit and haven’t been freshly painted in over 20 years. I supplied a picture of the current entrance with freshly painted markings. I advised that I am not obstructing or causing risk to children due to being close to 100 yards away from the busy entrance other school.

    If this is enforceable then would it be enforceable if the school was knocked down?

    I also don’t understand why they overturned it the first time and not the second because the reason is the same.

  13. Chris


    parking or waiting/stopping on yellow zig zags marked school is 3 points and £60 fine. I pretend to film them or simply tell them its dangerous and illegal and they move. leaflets in every childs school bag with warning of 3 points and £60 fine will do the trick.

  14. warren


    This a costly suggestion but where children’s life is concern money shouldn’t come into it. Why not install metal electric bollards on the Zig Zag lines. At a push of the button the Bollards would go down when all the Children are in School.

  15. Nicola


    Our school had yellow zigzags outside and across the road. The school requested that they be enforced by the council, who promptly repainted some and put up signs, however they removed the yellow lines on one corner immediately outside the school gates as “it wasn’t enforceable”(!?). Beggars belief sometimes.

  16. David Peterson


    What is the point of yellow zigzags outside schools if people can park on them. During school hours they should be treat as double yellow lines. If prosecutions can’t be made, they’re useless.

  17. George Duffett


    We have the same problem at Mosspark Primary School, a driver parked in front of my driveway when my car was in the driveway, I read on the website for UK parking laws that is a Civic offence,it was in the letter section, looked like it was a council answer to me. There also a mention in the Highway code that you cannot park near a school entrance.

  18. Lorraine Larkin


    I am a lollipop lady outside a school in Essex. There is no help, i wrote down a number of a parked car on zigzags, the driver was so angry shouted out the window “if you write down my number again i will run you over you stupid bitch” I told my supervisor and she needed witness to do anything. i have no camera and no witness to hand, so i will be crossing children around parked cars.:0(

    • The ETA


      Dear Lorraine, we’re so sorry to hear that. Whatever your supervisor has told you, threats of violence are a matter for the police. We would urge you to report that incident to them without delay.

  19. Linda Perera


    During the hours of 9.30 to 2.30 you are allowed to park on the yellow zig zag outside of our local school. Yesterday I was delayed at the opticians. I ran as fast as I could up the road. As I turned the corner I could see the traffic warden issuing a ticket to me. I tried to shout to stop her but was so out of breath. As I approached her she said it was too late the ticket has been issued. The time on the ticket is 2.31pm. 1 minute!! If she’d raised her head she would have seen me running like a lunatic. I’m 61!! Is it worth me disputing this? Is there an amount of time they have to allow you when you are allowed to park on the lines just in case of delays? I can understand if it was ten minutes, but I was actually on time a matter of yards away calling! Then she sarcastically sneered that i should have been there on time. As far as im concerned i was.

  20. Colin Hall


    Because Traffic Wardens and the Police are prepared to ignore the appaling situation regarding parents collecting there children from schools wether there is zig zags and double yellow lines,no stopping etc then the only solution is to put red lines in the area. This removes any ambiguity as to where you are not to park or stop and in addition adding a camera to photograph those parents that chose to ignore the lines, and duly send the ticket to those braking the law.
    Too often have we all heared the excuses-lack of manpower, and the Traffic Wardens comment that we need to see them park for 5minutes before we can act.

  21. Andy


    Hi there,
    I live next to a rural primary school, which is down a single lane cul de sac far from the village. Over the years the school has expanded (despite residents objections) and at the same time children have more and more stopped using buses and their legs and are now 100% driven in in private cars.

    The traffic is relentless. A queue of fifteen cars, stopped, entirely blocking all residents in beyond the school (three houses and a church) happens twice a day, a half hour at a time.

    The parents respond by weoponising the police if you try to knock on their windows to alert them of obstruction.

    What on earth can one do? The council ridiculously says that their schools are acting to promote sustainable transport, but the facts on the ground are more like Jalalabad.

    Would zig zags help? How does one apply for them?

    Many thanks,

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