Double yellow trouble

Double yellow lines
Do you know the rules around parking on double yellow lines? Is it true you should never park on them, or is it fine to stop on them provided you’re only going to do so for a few a minutes? Are traffic wardens actually duty-bound to let you off so long as you put your hazard warning lights on and look suitably flustered, contrite or bewildered (or a lively mix of all three) when they have you bang to rights for parking illegally?

You’ll probably not be surprised to learn that you should never park, or even wait, on double yellow lines at any time of the day or night, as rule 238 of the Highway Code states:

You MUST NOT wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation shown on nearby time plates (or zone entry signs if in a Controlled Parking Zone) – download ‘Traffic signs’ (PDF, 486KB)and ‘Road markings’ (PDF, 731KB). Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs.

You MUST NOT wait or park, or stop to set down and pick up passengers, on school entrance markings (download ‘Road markings’ (PDF, 731KB)) when upright signs indicate a prohibition of stopping.

The only exceptions to this rule are commercial vehicles making deliveries or pick-ups, blue badge holders and emergency services. Illegally parking on double yellow lines could land you with an on-the-spot fine of £70 if you live outside London or as much as £130 if you live in the capital – but that could all be about to change. Under new plans to help boost trade in neighbourhood high streets, the government has announced plans to introduce a 15-minute ‘grace period’ in which you will be able to leave your car on double yellow lines without fear of being fined.

A fortune from fines

Local councils appear to be facing a big dilemma when it comes to enforcing parking restrictions. On the one hand, they can make a fortune out of parking fines and some have been accused of profiteering in this way. On the other hand, however, over-zealous parking enforcement is thought to be one of the main reasons why ‘the high street’ is struggling. And so, before the next general election, Conservative ministers wants to push through legislation that will give motorists a grace period to allow them to park up and pop into their local shop without worrying about being hit with a hefty penalty.

However, critics believe the 15-minute window would be almost impossible to monitor. There are also fears that allowing people to park on double yellow lines could jeopardise the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists and even lead to greater congestion in village and town centres. Where do you stand on this issue - should motorists be allowed a grace period? Or should we keep things as they are? Double yellow lines are there for a reason, so is this simply a case of the government trying to get motorists onside before the next general election? Let us know what you think in the comments section below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #motoringblog

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