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LIVE POLL: Have you ever parked in a parent and child car park at a supermarket?

Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Monday, 11 February 2019

An investigation by the Herald has revealed a huge number of people occupying car parks at local retailers designated for parents and caregivers.

In just 30 minutes at an Auckland supermarket, more than eight different vehicles with able-bodied drivers not accompanying children parked in spaces labelled for "Parents & Caregivers" with accompanying iconography.

Of the six parents-and-caregiver car parks located outside the entrance of the building, for 15 of the 30 minutes more than half of the spaces were occupied by drivers without children.

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Parent and caregiver parking is not mandated by law like that of disabled car parks.

However, in the three years to 2018, almost 10,000 fines were issued to Aucklanders parking in disabled carparks, netting Auckland Council a sum of $1.47 million.

At no point during the 30-minute period was parking availability a problem. With upwards of 30 parks available within 30 metres of the supermarket's entrance.

Not just private vehicles were in violation. More than three commercial vehicles were spotted in the parks, including an NZ Post worker in a buggy.

When confronted, a driver in a commercial vehicle replied, "If you're going to make a big deal about this, I'll just move". Before winding up his window and driving away.

Sara Chatwin, a psychologist at MindWorks, argued the violators aren't necessarily bad people, they're just not cognisant of the effects on those whom the car parks are designated for.

"It's kind of like having the angel and devil on your shoulder, but putting the angel on mute and allowing the devil to scream and give us pretty good reasons to just do it.

They rationalise, 'I'm only going to be a minute"

A mother of a newborn who occupied one of the parks during the 30 minutes said: "It's just another thing to deal with. You're dealing with lack of sleep, a crying baby and getting a buggy in and out of the car. I've not typically had a problem with getting a park, but if you want that sort of karma, so be it."

Deborah Vaughn from Plunket said the wider carparks can be an important part of helping parents with prams move safely while transferring young children into strollers, and also benefit those with young children

"Designated parents-with-prams parking spots are usually located closer to the entrance of the shopping centre, which reduces the distance that young children need to move through in a high-traffic area."

Chatwin's advice was simple. "Be present. Even when you're in a rush. Be cognisant of those who you're putting out through your decision-making process. Were the rest of the carpark full, this could actually have serious negative effects on someone else's day. You simply don't know what other people are going through."