Stress-free parking this Christmas

Stress-free parking this Christmas

Christmas shopping can be the perfect way to start the festivities this season, and with some well thought out plans it shouldn’t break the bank to park.

With many retailers already warning of Christmas stock shortages due to ongoing supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic and Brexit, consumers are expected to shop earlier than usual to avoid out-of-stocks and shelf gaps. This week’s tips from Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent charity, gives advice to shoppers on securing the perfect parking space ahead of the busiest shopping days of Christmas.

1. Cost

Deciding where to park can have a huge impact on cost, it’s been known for some parking charges to cost more than the presents themselves. So, it’s always worth having a look to see if your town have special offers on parking around the festive season – some towns have reduced rates on certain days and for late night shopping it is often free.

2. Choose wisely

Think about where you leave your vehicle in a multi-story car park – always choose your space on when you plan to return, it is never nice to return to the only car left on the top floor of a now relatively empty car park. You might want to check out the security facilities in the car park if you’re coming back late. Knowing there’s someone monitoring cameras or on hand is preferable.

At any one time, 30% of drivers on UK roads are in city centres searching for a parking space, on average it takes 10-15 minutes to find somewhere to park and during busy periods that time frame gets bigger! So, make sure you add the time it will take to get parked up into your time plan for the day, or maybe even pre-book a space

3. Security

Choose a car park which has a certificate backed by the police for safety such as Park Mark, their car parks use clear directional signage and traffic flow techniques like one-way circulation, so drivers are not confused about which way to go. Pedestrian access and exit routes are clearly indicated with signage and controlled routes such as painted paths, which help to keep you safe. A car park finder is available here

Try to avoid returning to your vehicle to leave your presents while you continue on, unfortunately thieves do watch for this sort of thing – leaving valuables in a car is never a good idea especially after you spent all that time and effort in choosing the right presents, but if you are going to make sure you lock them up out of sight in the boot

Some car parks are not as well-lit as others so it’s a good idea to put your lights on and give your eyes time to adjust to the different light level. Keep a look out for pedestrians thinking more about their shopping list than their safety – especially excited children.

4. Parking neighbours

Choose your parking neighbours and space carefully; a car which is looked after and in good condition is less likely to have a door open into yours. Also, although never on purpose, a car with child seats in it might have children who are not quite as careful in charge of the door.

5. Reverse park or drive in?

Use the option which suits you best – if you need to put your shopping in the boot when you return consider driving into the space but be aware you need to exercise caution when reversing out. You can dust off your parking and manoeuvring skills here:

6. Tickets

Unless it is a pay and display avoid leaving your ticket in the car and make sure you put it somewhere safe – if you are a regular at losing tickets, take a quick photo of it so you have all the details to hand just in case. If you have used a pay and display – set an alarm on your phone to remind you what time it runs out, it can be very easy to let time slip by without you noticing.

7. Parking Apps

Don’t forget some carparks and street parking now operate and charge via Apps. If you can plan ahead of time it might be easier to download the App before you leave home. Make sure you have the right one for the parking area, be careful entering your location code, registration number and time. Some Apps keep running until you stop them, and this can mean that if you forget to turn them off you could run up a hefty bill. Others only give you two hours maximum and have a no return policy meaning you’d have to move the car on. May App operated parking systems now only accept cards so be prepared.

8. Number plates

If you’ve ever been in that long queue behind someone who’s forgotten their full number plate, you’ll appreciate how annoying it can be. The issue might be a new car or hire car, more than one car at home, it doesn’t help. Snap a picture of your number plates and save on your phone. You won’t be popular if you hold up the queue and why not take away some of that stress. Having the picture as back-up will probably mean you never forget but better to be safe that sorry!

Richard said: “As Christmas approaches it becomes more difficult to ‘pop’ into the town centre, parking spaces can be in short supply and a queue to get in or out takes away from the pleasure of choosing a gift. Park and ride are often a good option and some local authorities will set up a scheme especially for Christmas. If you are able avoid the weekend, it is often easier to find a space whilst most people are dealing with their daily commute. If you can walk then it would always been them most favourable option, but remember you’ll need to carry it home!”

About IAM RoadSmart
IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has over 82,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.

To find out more about IAM RoadSmart products and services visit:

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