A quarter of parking spaces reserved for parents with children are being abused by other drivers.

An investigation by comparison website Confused.com found 26 per cent of bays observed were used by someone without a child in the car.

It appears drivers are wrongly taking advantage of parent and child parking spaces, leaving mums and dads battling to find spaces with young children in tow.

And a survey found seven in ten drivers asked had seen people without children using a space meant for those with youngsters in the vehicle.

The company asked drivers why they abused the rules, with the most popular response being they ‘wanted to park close to the entrance’.

Confused.com visited 10 supermarkets and found one in four parent and child spaces were being wrongly used.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Parents face battles every day and trying to find parking at the local shop shouldn’t be one of them. And this is something I‘ve experienced myself with my own children.

“What is clear is if you aren’t travelling with a child you shouldn’t be parking in the dedicated spaces and instead save these for the mums and dads out there who need the space.

“For us parents, knowing the point at which we should be giving up these spaces is quite confusing. How old is too old for our children to be using a dedicated space? To help parents out, we’ve spoken to some of the top supermarkets on their rules. create a handy guide to parent and child parking.

“If you see someone wrongly using a parent and child parking space, you can report it.”

These were the excuses made by drivers in the survey:

Basildon Standard:

What are the rules?

There also seems to be some confusion around who exactly the spaces are meant for.

For instance, can you park in them regardless of whether you have a child with you? How old does your child have to be before you have to stop using the spaces?

Generally, you can use a parent and child parking bay if you have a child with you that’s under 12 or in a car seat or booster seat. This is unless any signage says otherwise.

It’s unclear whether pregnant women can use these spaces as signs specifically refer to parents with children.

When the website asked supermarkets to quote their rules on parent and child parking bays, Tesco was the only store to mention pregnant women.

Do supermarkets fine people for misusing the parking spaces?

Sainsbury's

Parent and child parking bay misuse is handled by the store itself and fines would be issued by the car park operators.

Asda

An external agency monitors Asda’s car parks. Regular checks are conducted to enforce parking regulations. If someone has parked incorrectly they will be issued with a parking charge.

Morrisons

If someone is discovered parking incorrectly they are politely asked to move, or a sign is placed on their windscreen.

Tesco

An external agency will issue a parking charge notice (PCN) to anyone wrongly parked.

Aldi

If a customer has noticed someone misusing a parent and child bay they are encouraged to report it to the store manager. However, they are unable to enforce this as there are limited staff in store.

Lidl

Lidl do not have the facilities to monitor the use of parent and child parking bays. They strongly rely on the honesty of customers to park correctly.