Car Park Safety and Maintenance

Cars on parking place from above.

By Law, every car park and traffic route must be safe and suitable for the people and vehicles using them. We’ve put together a useful guide to help ensure your car park is safe for both drivers and pedestrians.

General Car Park Maintenance

Parking areas — along with attached paths and roads — must be maintained and require a fully costed, and regularly monitored maintenance schedule.

Car parks and traffic routes should be maintained to provide good grip for vehicles or people. For example, they should be roughened if too smooth, gritted or sanded if slippery, and kept free of oil, grease, rubbish and other debris. A surface providing extra grip may be needed on sloped driving surfaces.

Surfaces should be free from pot holes and other surface defects which may affect vehicles and pedestrians. Do not allow potholes to develop. If you find a pothole, repair it promptly.

Car Park Safety Signs

Install clear signs to help drivers and pedestrians navigate around your car park safely and securely, allocate specific parking areas, communicate speed restriction and to promote parking etiquette. Where signposts are used, they should be constructed to Highway Code standards.

You should place signs so people have time to see and understand them, and take any action to reduce risks before they reach the hazard.

Make sure that signs are:

  • Clear and easy to understand
  • Obvious enough to be noticed
  • Clean and well maintained so that they are always visible
  • Reflective and lit if they need to be visible in darkness

Restricting Speed

Along with safety signs to communicate speed restrictions, you can install speed ramps to ensure vehicles remain at a safe speed.

Access for Visitors

The organisation owes a duty of care to visitors and so must ensure that any security arrangements are inclusive and that visitors are able to access the facilities available to them. Ensure that visitors’ car parking areas are well defined, accessible, secure and are offered the same level of security as the staff car park, even if they are not sited in the main car park.

Detailed consideration is also needed for access by disabled drivers and passengers, so that they can enter the premises as easily as possible.

Automatic Gates

Care must be taken with electric gate systems to ensure that they are designed, fitted and maintained according to appropriate safety standards. All automatic gates should be risk assessed and fitted with sufficient safety measures to prevent people from becoming trapped or injured.


Car parks that are used during any period of darkness should be lit. Dark places and strong shadows provide hiding places and any lighting systems should be designed to eliminate them. Lighting should be even and consistent and it is good practice to install low-level, dusk-to-dawn lighting as opposed to harsh, sensor-activated spotlights.

In addition, organisations may wish to consider the following best practice.

  • Get expert advice from an accredited body such as the Institution of Lighting Professionals
  • Conduct patrols and surveys at night to check on lighting levels
  • Replace defective bulbs promptly
  • Do not over-light — it is expensive and can cause dark shadows. It also causes light pollution.
  • Mount lighting out of reach of criminals and vandals, but avoid “light trespass” onto neighbouring properties, into the road or upwards.

Disabled Parking

Dedicated, accessible and clearly marked car-parking bays should be provided for disabled people. These should be placed close to wheelchair-accessible entrances to buildings. In addition to the standard 2.4m width and 4.8m length, there should be an extra zone of 1.2m on each side of a disabled parking bay.

If automatic barriers exist, these should be accessible to people with impaired vision or hearing. Control gates or barriers must not impede disabled drivers.

 Drainage and Ground Water Management

The effective management of ground water is an important consideration in car parks to reduce the risk of standing water or flooding causing water damage, as well as rendering some parking bays unusable. Water flow patterns should be monitored and analysed and the organisation should ensure there is adequate drainage in place to cope with expected rainfall levels. Particular attention should be paid to the direction of the water flow in heavy rain. Sidewalks, pathways, paved areas, courtyards, driveways and parking areas should tilt away from buildings. Where this is not possible, expert contractors should be used to advise on suitable flood proofing techniques.

It is important for the person responsible to be familiar with the drainage system under his or her maintenance control and to keep records and plans. These can normally be obtained from building plans or surveys.

To prevent flooding the grounds management team should ensure the effective maintenance of gutters, gullies, drains, manholes, ditches and soak-aways.

On an annual basis, and before and after the onset of rainy weather, drainage systems should be inspected, in particular surface drains such as inlets, u-channels and catchpits, which are susceptible to blockage by silt, vegetation, rubbish and debris. Underground drains are best maintained by contractors who can be asked to:

  • Clear manholes, pipes and culverts by spooning or rodding
  • Utilise heavy duty or specialised clearance methods where required
  • Inspect the condition of drains by using closed-circuit television cameras.

Pollution and Surface Water Run-off

Surface water run-off from car parks can cause erosion, pollution and even localised flooding. Run-off may contain pollutants such as:

  • Oil and fuel
  • Hydraulic fluids
  • Suspended solids
  • Grease
  • Antifreeze.

Surface water run-off from car parks can be discharged into surface water drains or watercourses without a consent or agreement from a water and sewerage company or authority, as long as it is not contaminated.

Small car parks used only for parking cars can discharge surface water run-off directly. Larger car parks (typically larger than 800m2 in area or for 50 or more car parking spaces) should remove oil, grease, petrol and diesel from run-off by passing it through an oil separator before it is discharged. An oil separator should also be used for any run-off from areas used for more polluting activities, such as vehicle servicing.

Alternatively, sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) can be used to drain run-off from car parks. SUDS slow and hold back run-off from a site so that pollutants can be broken down naturally. In Scotland, SUDS must be used to drain run-off from all new car parks.

Contaminated run-off must not be allowed to enter surface water drains, watercourses or groundwater. Organisations that cause pollution in this way can be prosecuted. Contaminated run-off may be discharged to a public combined sewer but only with prior consent from the appropriate authority.

If vehicles are cleaned in a car park, the run-off should not be allowed to enter surface water drains, surface waters or ground waters. If someone else cleans vehicles in a car park, it is the car park owner’s responsibility to ensure they do not cause pollution.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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