With parking at a premium, double parking can sometimes feel like the only viable option. And it’s a practice that many of us see on the roads everyday. A driver may double park in front of a school waiting for their kids to hop in the back. Someone may pull up behind another driver vacating a prime parallel parking space. Even you might’ve double parked once or twice in order to retrieve a forgotten item or two.
But what are the actual laws here? Is there any wiggle room when it comes to double parking? How can you avoid getting fined?
If you’ve been asking these same questions, take a look at our Parkhound double parking guide. We’ll break down the definition of double parking and offer up some alternative parking methods, and end the confusion, once and for all.
What, really, is double parking?
We all have an idea of what double parking is. A selfish driver pulls up to their favourite coffee shop. They don’t bother to see if there’s available parking. They just put their car into park and stroll inside for a curbside pickup. Anyone blocked by this nonchalant driver must then wait. Wait for them to come back before they can get on with their day. Meanwhile, drivers passing on the street have to maneuver around the double parked car. This slows traffic and creates a dangerous situation.
This image draws on the reputation that we have built around double parking. In our minds, double parking is selfishness on the part of the driver. We imagine a thoughtlessly abandoned car parked alongside other vehicles.
But in reality, the laws around double parking are a bit murkier. While some states do define double parking as literally parking alongside another car, most will issue a fine for simply stopping your car. Here are the specifics of each state:
- QLD: Double parking is defined as parking in between a parked car on the side of the road and the centre of the road. On a one-way street, double parking is defined as parking between a parked vehicle on the side of the road and the far side of the road.
- NSW: Here, double parking includes stopping your vehicle, whether you stay inside the car or leave it parked, alongside a parked vehicle on the road.
- ACT: Like NSW, double parking includes parking or stopping alongside a parked vehicle on the side of the road.
- VIC: In Victoria, double parking includes parking, stopping, or leaving your vehicle alongside a parked car.
- SA: Stopping and parking are prohibited alongside cars parked on the side of the road.
- WA: Here, again, double parking includes parking and stopping your vehicle alongside a parked car on the side of the road.
- NT: Double parking here also means parking or stopping a vehicle alongside a parked vehicle. Both if you plan on staying in the car or leaving it parked.
- TAS: While double parking isn’t specifically mentioned in the driver’s handbook, the regulation states that there must be at least 3m of road between your car and the dividing line, which is often impossible when double parked.
QLD is the only state in which double parking applies to cars that have parked or been abandoned by drivers. For every other part of Australia, you can be fined for stopping your car alongside a parallel parked car. It’s a subtle difference. However, it accounts for many of the issued double parking fines – many of us are simply unaware of the nuance of the law.
Why is double parking such a big deal?
Many of those who have received double parking fines don’t understand what the fuss is all about. A moment or two of idling alongside a parked car while dropping off a friend or waiting for an open parking space doesn’t seem like a dangerous practice.
Yet, the rationale behind these double parking rules make sense. Even momentarily pausing in the roadway can block the traffic behind you. In particularly high traffic areas, short pauses in traffic flow can add up to major traffic blockages.
And there’s also the problem of other drivers trying to get around you. With their vision blocked to oncoming traffic in the opposite direction, double parking even momentarily, can create a dangerous situation. This is especially true if you’re waiting for a car ahead of you to pull out of a parking space, and a car behind you overtakes you at the same time.
Now, you might be thinking that in quiet neighbourhoods without traffic, these issues wouldn’t come up. And you may be right. These are also areas where parking rules are less strictly enforced. In fact, many people get away with double parking in low traffic suburbs all the time. But the fact is, with the laws on the books, every time you double park, you run the risk of getting a fine.
What can you do to avoid a double parking fine?
The first thing you need to do to avoid being fined for double parking is learn about the laws in your area. We mentioned the state-by-state differences, but it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date about any changes to your local regulations. If you’re not sure about how restrictive your local laws are about double parking, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and avoid double parking altogether.
Here are a few alternatives to double parking:
If you’re in the habit of picking up or dropping off passengers in areas where you might be tempted to double park, you can often find nearby alternatives. Schools, shopping centres, and similar locations often have loading zones that you can use instead of double parking. If they don’t, you might plan to drop your passenger off or meet a passenger for pickup in a nearby parking area to avoid being fined.
Forget something at home? Don’t assume that you can park your car along parked vehicles right outside of your home to run inside. Instead, make sure to pull all the way into your driveway or find a parking spot before leaving your car.
Another reason why someone may double park is because parking is consistently sparse in their area. It’s understandable why a driver would be tempted to wait for a car to vacate a parking space when they’ve been circling the block looking for available parking. If this is your situation, Parkhound has an alternative: off-street parking.
With affordable pre-booked parking spaces in your area, you can avoid the hassle of looking for parallel parking. And you won’t risk the double parking fines. Instead of Googling parking near me, enter your area into the Parkhound search bar, and find cheap parking spaces everywhere from Brisbane to Adelaide to Perth.
Final thoughts on double parking
This parking method is understandable in many cases. However, the fact is that most states are pretty clear that double parking is not allowed. Even stopping your car for a few moments alongside another car is grounds for a double parking fine in most states. If you want to avoid the fine, the best option is to avoid double parking altogether. Use an alternative parking method altogether. We’d love to learn more about your thoughts on double parking or clear up any questions you have about this often misunderstood regulation. Reach out to Parkhound with your thoughts on double parking!