Of all parking restrictions the restriction or prohibition of stopping is the most stringent in the United Kingdom. It is much more restrictive than the more common parking ban carrying far fewer exemptions. But it is usually confused with parking or waiting bans by drivers and some enforcement officers often leading to hotly contested parking fines. Many Local authorities are also less than scrupulous in ensuring the correct signs and lines are marked to support their stopping bans which should mean any parking tickets issued on their authority should be invalid.

Traffic laws are quite clear on the difference between the two non permissive controls but the turgid text and terse prose of standard traffic compendiums are not necessarily the most accessible purveyors of information. Below I have hopefully provided a detailed but comprehensible explanation of the different types of stopping bans, what signs and lines should validate them and their differences from the more ubiquitous parking bans.

What is a Stopping Prohibition? And how does it differ from a parking ban

A stopping ban is defined in Section 9.2 of the Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 3 as a ban ‘that does not allow a private vehicle to stop for any purpose (except in an emergency or where exempted in the traffic order) even to pick up and set down passengers…’

Parking prohibitions are dealt with in section 6 of the same document where they are effectively categorised as vehicles waiting on any part of the public highway. The words waiting and parking are used interchangeably in UK traffic law and mean the same thing. A ban on waiting or parking however does not preclude waiting to load/unload or stopping to pick up or set down passengers.

It therefore follows that a vehicle can stop to set down and pick up passengers on standard waiting restrictions without being penalised including stopping on single and double yellow lines, footways, cross overs, areas subject to the overnight waiting ban or even double park to stop.

Any parking ticket issued to vehicles under such circumstances would be invalid. Loading bans which prohibit loading and parking also do not ban stopping to allow passengers alight or disembark

The different types of Stopping bans in the UK

There are broadly 3 categories of stopping prohibitions in the UK. They are –

  • Those requiring road marking but not signs
  • Those requiring road markings and signs
  • Urban Clearways and Red Routes

Civil Stopping bans requiring road marking but not signs

This refers to the common white zig zag marking which protects the flanks of pedestrian crossings. Its purpose is to provide a clean line of sight for pedestrians using the crossing and vehicles approaching it, by preventing the obstruction even momentarily parked vehicles would create.

Pedestrian zig zag crossings are authorised by Regulation 27 of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions TSRGD 2002, the legal standard authorising all traffic signs and lines in the UK. This stopping ban is enforced using contravention code 99 by local authority parking attendants; however it can also be enforced by the police which will typically lead to an automatic fine or deduction of driving license points

Civil stopping bans requiring road markings and signs

These are stopping bans that require both road markings and upright signs to be present on street for the stopping ban to be validly enforced. Three stopping bans fall under this category in the United Kingdom. They are –

  • Taxi Ranks (not all)
  • Bus Stops/Stands
  • School Keep Clear Markings

Taxi Ranks

These are broken yellow cages marked on the highway where licensed Taxi’s are allowed to wait. The ranks must be marked in conformance with the Regulations and Directions for the TSRGD bay Diagram 1028.2. A Taxi rank carries a parking ban for non Taxis; this ban could be enforced with or without an accompanying yellow line marked inside the cage alongside the kerb.

However some Taxi ranks have the more restrictive stopping ban. In such instances the ban must be represented by a specific road marking and a sign. The marking will be a thicker than usual yellow line which is used to represent stopping bans rather than the more traditional slimmer version used for parking bans. For the ban to be enforceable this thick yellow marking must be used in conjunction with an upright sign specifying the nature and hours of the restriction and the standard No Stopping emblem – This emblem is made from the same material but arranged in a different manner than the parking ban emblem. The UK stopping ban sign is a red cross emblazoned on a blue fill circle surrounded by a red border. The No Waiting or parking sign has a red diagonal line across a blue circle also surrounded by a red border. Taxi ranks are enforced by the contravention code 45.

Bus Stops/Stands

Bus stops and stands are marked inside broken yellow cages, with the markings usually thicker in width than those used to demarcate taxi ranks. The Road markings for Bus stops/stands are authorised and must conform to the TSRGD Diagram 1025.1 which establishes the exact demarcations of a bus stop which it must meet to be enforceable. The stopping ban in the bus stop is also represented by a thick yellow line which must be accompanied by upright signs with the standard no stopping emblem emblazoned on it. The standard Bus stop and bus stand No stopping upright stands must conform to TSRGD Diagrams 974 and 975 respectively. Bus stops are enforced by the parking contravention code 47. Without both the correct sign and correct marking including the thick yellow line, any tickets issued on bus stops and stands will be unenforceable.

School Keep Clear Markings

These are yellow zig zag markings drawn across school entrances to prevent obstruction and facilitate a clear line of sight for parents and children walking in or out of the school. The markings must be drawn in accordance to the TSRGD diagram 1027.1. To be enforceable they must also be accompanied by standard upright signs stating the enforcement hours (usually within term time) and sport the No Stopping emblem. School Keep clear markings ban stopping for all cars including those belonging to parents or guardian with wards in the school.. the ban is enforced by contravention code 48

Urban Clearways and Red Routes

Both of these are stopping bans enforced by the Police and not civil Enforcement Officers or Parking Attendants. The main difference between both is that urban clearways are enforced on semi rural or inter-Urban roads therefore do not need to be enforced by road markings, requiring only traffic facing No Stopping Signs. They are also more stringent than Red Routes which are limited to major trunk roads within urban areas. Urban clearways strictly prohibit stopping except in specifically designated lay by’s off the main carriageway. Red routes on the other hand while prohibiting stopping exempt taxis when they’re picking or dropping fares and some red routes (largely found only in London) permit parking and loading under certain conditions.

Exemptions to Stopping prohibitions

These are few but well established. Stopping can be allowed where it is expressly banned

  • When a vehicle has to stop for an emergency
  • For vehicles being used for statutory works on the highway
  • For vehicles involved in road works or construction.
  • When a vehicle is forced to stop by a traffic signal or instruction of a policeman.