Parking – no driver looks forward to it. Finding a space, manoeuvring in, and then often paying for the privilege; it’s a daily reality that every motorist faces, and absolutely no one enjoys.
Here in the UK, parking can prove a bit of a mission. So much so, in fact, that the moment we find a space, we go for it – often without thinking whether or not it’s safe.
But there are times when those coveted parking spots can come at a price – whether that’s damage to your car or the threat of theft. So, to help you avoid parking woes, here we look at 10 places and scenarios where you should think before you park.
1. Under Trees
Anyone with trees outside their house will attest to how dodgy parking under them can be. Not only will your car come under fire from bird droppings, but tree sap is a big problem too. Plus, there’s the added danger of falling branches damaging your car in high winds, not to mention the annoying marks left behind by falling leaves and twigs.
It might not be possible, but avoid parking beneath trees if you can; your paintwork will thank you for it. If your car has recently suffered a stint beneath a tree, read our guide on how to remove stubborn sap and bird droppings.
2. On Single Yellow Lines
Of all the signs painted on our roads, single yellow lines cause the most confusion. Are they safe to park on or not? It all depends on nearby signage, with different ‘operating hours’ depending on where the street is. Most of the time, a single yellow line means no waiting or parking, but only during the hours marked by a sign.
Always check the rules on the yellow sign nearest to the line before you park. If there isn’t one, err on the side of caution and find somewhere else to park.
3. In Unsecured Car Parks
With parking at a premium in most towns and cities around the UK, it’s always tempting to find the cheapest option – even if that means parking in an unsecured car park. While your car will likely be safe, there is a higher risk in an unsecured car park of break-ins, theft, or an unscrupulous car park operator clamping your car as a money-making tactic.
For a couple of quid extra, find yourself a decent, secure car park that’s gated and has CCTV. Stick to the big-name operators where possible, too, so there’s less chance of getting conned.
4. On Steep Inclines
Parking on steep streets is often unavoidable, particularly if you live somewhere that’s very hilly. But doing so puts a lot of stress on your car’s handbrake, meaning it might need more maintenance and upkeep than usual. There’s also the risk of your car rolling away – leaving no margin for error when parking and putting on the handbrake.
If you have no alternative but to park on a slope, help your handbrake by leaving your car in first gear when parking. Not only will this make it less likely to roll away, it’ll also take some strain off the handbrake.
5. Near Cliffs, Rock Faces and Mud Banks
Every so often, you hear about cars and property being damaged by mudslides, falling rocks and water torrents. While the odds of this happening to your car are slim, it’s worth taking precautions and avoid parking near cliffs, rock faces and mud banks, especially in bad weather.
Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk on the beach or planning a hike in the countryside, find somewhere to park that’s well away from cliff faces and falling rocks. Such accidents are very unlikely, but it’s worth taking precautions in bad weather.
6. At the Bottom of Steep Streets
We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of cars sliding uncontrollably down icy roads. Well, imagine if your car was parked at the bottom! It’s always risky parking at the bottom of a steep street, especially during the winter, when snow and ice spell calamity for anything and anyone at the bottom.
Park away from the base of hilly streets where you can. Even if it means going out of your way by a couple of minutes, it’s always worth it to avoid runaway cars.
7. Near Water
If there’s one thing to be said about water, it’s that it can be very unpredictable. Whether you’re parked by the sea, near a lake or beside a stream, bad weather or freak waves can turn that gentle water body into a raging torrent surprisingly quickly, so don’t take it for granted.
Use your common sense when parking near water, and always follow the advice of nearby signage. If the weather’s a bit mixed, we’d go elsewhere.
8. On Uneven Ground
That patch of sand, dirt, grass or gravel may look innocent enough, but there’s always a risk when parking on anything but good old tarmac. Sand is a dodgy one, with every risk you’ll get stuck, while parking on grass or dirt is a nightmare if there’s a sudden downpour.
If you’re one for secluded hikes by the coast or in the country, you might be used to parking on uneven ground. But, where possible, we’d definitely recommend sticking to tarmac, as there’s nothing worse than setting off to find your tyres spinning.
9. Near Blind Bends on Single-Track Roads
Finding somewhere to park in the countryside can be a nightmare, so it’s small wonder people often resort to questionable tactics in the name of walking their dog. One rule you should always remember, though, is to avoid parking on blind bends, where accidents are just waiting to happen.
If you often struggle to find spaces out in the sticks, do some research before you go. Look for laybys on Google Maps street view, and consider paying for safe parking in pub car parks or similar. Apps like JustPark are great for finding available spaces where you might assume there aren’t any.
10. In High-Crime Areas
Following on from our point on parking in unsecured car parks, it’s often the case that drivers want to avoid paid-for parking altogether, preferring to save cash and park on the street. Of course, this is the riskiest option when it comes to parking, particularly if you unwittingly leave your car in a high-crime area.
When parking for free on the street, be sure your car is safe. Take all valuables with you, store in-car gadgets in the glovebox, and avoid parking in places which just feel dodgy. If you want to check an area’s crime stats, we’d recommend this interactive map from ADT.
So, there you have it, 10 places and scenarios where you should think before you park. While Simoniz can’t help you choose a safe parking place, we can help keep your car looking its just-bought best. For more information and our full product range, visit the homepage.