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How predatory parking wardens exploit drivers: An inside look

The team at International Drivers Association has exclusively interviewed ex traffic warden Michael Towey, to find out traffic wardens strategies and evade their traps.

Michael Towey said: As a former traffic warden, I've witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly. While many of us are just doing our job, ensuring that parking rules are enforced for the benefit of all, there are a few who take things too far.

Timing Tactics

Some wardens might closely watch vehicles as their parking time runs out. They'll be there, ticket pad in hand, the moment your time expires.

How to Avoid: Make sure you return to your car a few minutes before your ticket or paid parking time runs out. If using a parking app, set reminders so you don't lose track of time.

Obscure Signage

Occasionally, signage can be hidden behind trees or placed in non-obvious locations. This is not always the fault of the warden, but they might exploit it.

How to Avoid: Always thoroughly check the surrounding area for parking restrictions and terms before leaving your vehicle. If a sign seems ambiguous, it's better to find another spot.

Chalk and Walk

Some wardens chalk car tyres to keep track of how long they've been parked. If you exceed the allowed time, you might receive a ticket based on the chalk mark.

How to Avoid: If you notice chalk on your tyres, it's a sign you're being watched. Move your car or ensure you don't overstay your welcome.

Double Check Digital

For pay-and-display areas, sometimes the machine might be broken or malfunctioning. Wardens are aware of which machines are faulty but might still issue tickets.

How to Avoid: If a machine is not working, take a picture of it, especially if there's an error message. This can be used as evidence if you receive a ticket. Look for alternative ways to pay, such as a nearby machine or parking apps.

Restricted Zones

Areas with temporary restrictions (like during events) might not always be clearly marked or communicated.

How to Avoid: Stay updated on local events or any changes to regular parking rules. Local news sites or council websites can provide this information.

Grace Periods

UK law states that drivers should be given a 10-minute grace period after their parking time has expired. Some wardens might jump the gun.

How to Avoid: Though you should always aim to return before your ticket expires, know your rights. If ticketed within that grace period, contest it.

Overlapping Restrictions

Areas where two parking zones meet can be confusing, and some wardens bank on this.

How to Avoid: If you're unsure of the parking rules because of overlapping zones, it's better to park somewhere more clear-cut.

Jennifer Leary, International Drivers Associations motoring expert says: 

While it's essential to remember that not all parking wardens are out to exploit drivers, it's always good to be aware and informed. Your best weapon against parking fines is knowledge, so arm yourself with information and always park smart.

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