ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to reduce stress on holiday and days out by ensuring they plan where they are going to park. The call follows news that parking firms are issuing around 12,000 penalty notices every day in the UK.
Hot weather brings day trippers as well as holidaymakers to seaside resorts, national parks and beauty spots… with the inevitable strains on car park availability. But with a bit of research into where you’re going, what parking is available and how much it costs, you can hopefully have this part of the day organised in advance and concentrate on having a great day out, says GEM.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth commented: “Parking while on holiday or a day out can be the bane of drivers’ lives, with long queues into car parks, strictly-enforced restrictions and the potential to waste precious time searching for somewhere to leave the car.
“Arriving in a town without knowing where you’re going to park is sure to be a source of unnecessary stress. That’s why we encourage drivers to do their homework before setting off. Booking a slot in advance takes away that stress, saves money and does away with any urge to take a chance on parking somewhere unsafe, illegal or inconsiderate.
“If you have been successful in finding a space in a car park, do check opening hours as you don’t want to attempt returning to your car at the end of a day and find it locked in for the night!
“Finally, if you turn up somewhere on spec and all the parking has been taken, prepare to be flexible and head somewhere else. Full car parks are not an excuse for illegal parking, even if you have a car full of fractious children desperate to get onto the beach.”
GEM’s tips for stress-free parking this summer:
At the seaside
- Pre-book: many coastal towns including Brighton, St Ives and Blackpool allow you to book a car parking space in advance. This will save a great deal of wear and tear on your nerves, and usually also means your car will be in a secure compound with CCTV and 24-hour access. If you haven’t pre-booked, then the earlier you arrive, the more chance you’ll have of bagging a decent parking spot.
- If you do rely on good fortune in finding a parking space, do check any restrictions so you won’t overstay your welcome and risk a penalty notice.
- Park away: check for out-of-town park and ride schemes, where there’s usually advance booking, as well as low-cost or free bus transfers into the centre of the resort.
In the car park
- Take it steady: around a quarter of all collisions occur at low speeds in car parks.
- Who’s next to you: if you have the choice, park next to an expensive car as the owner is likely to be more careful about manoeuvring – and less likely to bump your door or bumper.
- Lights, camera, parking: aim to park in a well-lit section of a car park, preferably in view of a CCTV system.
On the beach
- Tide times: be very careful if you decide to leave your car on a beach. You don’t have to look far for horror stories of cars stuck while the tide is coming in. And remember, HM Coastguard do not by law have to come to the aid of motorists stuck on the beach.
- In control: if you are in a 4×4, make sure you engage four-wheel drive before entering a beach, not once you realise you’re stuck.
- Head for the wash: seawater is extremely corrosive, so once you come off the beach, get a thorough wash as soon as possible.
At the airport
- Take a taxi: if you live a relatively short distance from the airport, consider a taxi to deliver and collect you. Many firms have pre-bookable special airport rates.
- Book early: if you do need to drive to the airport, then plan a long way ahead and compare rates offered by different firms.
- Include a hotel stay: there are a range of discounted ‘park and fly’ options offering a hotel at or near the airport for the beginning of your stay – very convenient if your flight leaves in the early morning.
Check your skills
- If you’re nervous about parking, why not practise parallel and reverse parking manoeuvres somewhere quiet to boost your confidence.
- Avoid going forwards into a parking space. Reversing in, slowly and carefully, means the first movement you make when leaving the spot will be forwards. Just make sure you can access the boot if you need to.
- Stay calm. Don’t be rushed by the driver waiting angrily behind you. Similarly, you won’t see anyone park more quickly if you’re making your own impatience known.
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