How Important are Signs for Car Park Management?

There’s no sense in having rules on a site if there isn’t a way to inform people what they are. We’re taking a closer look at the critical role signs play in car park management.

Black parking sign on a brick wall
Black parking sign on a brick wall

Explore more

What content must be included on parking signs?

There are legal requirements that must be met regarding the signage used in any car park. The British Parking Association Code 2012 (necessary for compliance with The BPA Approved Operator Scheme) along with Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 sets out required content that must be included on signs.

Signs must be large enough, and easily understood

Signs must be written in such a way that they can be understood easily (no legal jargon), and must be big enough to see and read with legible wording. The Code states that signs must be at least 450mm x 450 mm, and must be easily seen by drivers as they come into the site. You need to place a specific sign at the entrance to the site that summarises the rules in place and notifies the driver that specific terms and conditions will apply inside.

You also need to place enough signs around your site to ensure people have had every opportunity to see them. If a driver can credibly make the case ‘I couldn’t see any signs’, then signage is inadequate and he/she can rightly have a parking charge appealed.


Communicate, not confuse

Put signs with the most important terms (BPA AOS Code essential information) at the pay point, if applicable. If there is a barrier, make sure that the signs are visible before the driver passes the barrier. Make use of symbols or pictograms as well as words to facilitate understanding. The sign is intended to communicate not confuse. Think about times of the day and other conditions that will apply when a driver is trying to park, and adapt your signs accordingly. The BPA suggests putting a sign under a light if that is the only way to allow it to be read. Use retro-reflective paint if that helps to make it easy to spot and easy to read.

Include your company information

The sign must include your company information, too. Drivers need to know who they are dealing with, especially when faced with enforcement action. Therefore, don’t make this difficult by hiding your identity. If you use ANPR cameras to identify vehicles, you must tell drivers that you are doing so and why you are collecting their data.


Make the consequences clear to the driver

Make it clear what actions by a driver will lead to enforcement and control activity. These actions should be clearly spelled out, such as, for example, a failure to purchase and display a ticket or permit, a failure to park correctly in an authorised bay, exceeding the time permitted on a  purchased ticket or permit, or parking an unauthorised vehicle such as a coach or lorry in a car park authorised for private cars. Always include the minimum content prescribed by Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act.

Help from the experts – the best way to avoid signage pitfalls

This is a lot to manage if you are a private operator trying to monetise your car park for the first time, or a busy facilities manager with a thousand other things to do. Fortunately, there is help available.

Parkingeye, the UK’s leading car park management company, invests serious time to making sure site signage is spot on for its customers. It is not just a part of the service; it is something the company prides itself on, dedicating a great deal of time to – and professional teams that focus on just this. As the signage covers you (and us) in terms of legal requirements, all signage we produce is high-quality, BPA-approved, tough, clear and easy to spot from distance.

We also believe in treating motorists fairly because that is the way to create a long-term sustainable business. It is one of the reasons we have a 97% client retention rate, and we believe this commitment should be visible in everything we do. In making sure everyone can see and read the signs easily – apart from that being a requirement – this also drives compliance and ensures motorists are aware that fair enforcement practices are in operation.

Parkingeye’s proprietary database and ops management system, Cayenne, is a support platform which enables teams across the business to collaborate and drive results for our clients. All information is available within a couple of clicks, and the system offers Account teams live video feeds, detailed site and signage plans, as well as contract terms. Our system enables us to have accurate oversight of every site whilst facilitating installs that are carefully designed and expertly delivered. It also gives us the ability to check and recheck everything is correct, and that includes signage designs and placement.

This all means signs can accurately depict ‘zone use terms’ at sites which are used by different types of customers and with different free parking limitations (see image example). Our signage plans are always tailored to a given site so each sign is designed by hand, and we take time to ensure that all signage accurately reflects the site’s parking terms and conditions. Sometimes you may have 20 different businesses operating from one location, in which case we can create zoning and signage for any number of tenants in accordance with your agreed terms. The smallest details can drive compliance, revenue and make site a success, and also ensure users are happy.

We’ll also work with you to design location plans which minimise the visual impact of any equipment needed – for instance, we want to reduce any intrusion on the look of a listed building, or spoil the aesthetics of a restaurant frontage with signs that can be placed less conspicuously. Whilst this is not always possible, we’ll always make best endeavours to accommodate special requests.

If on-site literature & leaflets prior to the site “going live” are required for awareness purposes, we’ll provide this so your customers understand what changes are about to happen. Employee communications can also be prepared to let your teams know what’s happening, reasons for changes, etc. This is also a good time to let your people know how they can register for permits and concessions, if applicable. The flyers (or posters) we design will also show the signage – a key point for familiarisation and creating positive behavioural change.

As a result of the accuracy of our ANPR technology and the quality of our signage, only a tiny fraction of vehicles who use the car parks we manage are issued with a PCN (Parking Charge Notice) – 0.26%. 1 in 4 PCNs are appealed and of those, only 3.6% go on to register a further case with *POPLA – that’s just 0.002% of our annual capture level. It is the clear, accurate, legible and well-placed signage that underpins this process, ultimately resulting in fair use for the motorist and a high performing parking site for you.

Parkingeye has 14 years of experience and is five times larger than its nearest competitor. Our team is committed to accuracy, fairness and maintaining the highest standards of professional ethical responsibility. Our back-end tech is constantly tested and enhanced, and before issuing a PCN, we check everything manually so we can be sure the charge is fair – and that we’ve done everything correctly. We conduct regular ‘ethical responsibility’ training sessions with all of our Appeals team members, and we value their input and experience too. Our success and expertise have been built on this foundation of ethics and fairness towards the motorist.


If you would like to find out more about car park management, please head over to our car park management page for more information, and get in touch with us today!

Read more on our blog...

How can smarter parking solutions support quieter sites?

With many car parks currently quieter than usual and a genuine need to ensure customers return to a site when...

Read more

How to improve the day-to-day operations of your car park

There are many moving parts to a parking estate, dealing with technology, traffic flow and supporting motorists to name a...

Read more

How to ensure parking payment compliance on your car park

Paid parking has many benefits, both for you and for the overall experience of people wishing to park on your...

Read more