Parking Restrictions

No Parking Zones: Rules, Regulations, Signs and Penalties

Updated Nov. 20, 2020

Parking is illegal or restricted in many areas. Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on colored curb markings or a “NO PARKING” sign being present in places where parking is prohibited. As a driver, it is your responsibility to learn about parking rules, restrictions and prohibitions and abide by this information at all times.

Most parking rules apply across the country, while others are exclusively relevant to your state. Check your state’s driving manual for parking information, as you will be asked to recall it during the permit test.

Places where parking is illegal

These general parking rules apply consistently around the United States. Drivers may not park in the following areas:

  1. On a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk.
    These areas are reserved for pedestrians, you must not park with any part of your vehicle encroaching on a sidewalk or crosswalk.
  2. Within 20 feet of a pedestrian crosswalk.
    Doing so may prevent other drivers from seeing pedestrians who are using the crossing.
  3. On an intersection.
    Parking on intersections is illegal and dangerous. You must never park within 20 feet of an unmarked intersection.
  4. In a construction zone,
    where your vehicle blocks traffic.
  5. Within 30 feet of a “STOP” sign, “YIELD” sign or traffic signal light.
  6. Within 50 feet of train tracks or a railway crossing.
  7. Blocking or within 20 feet of a fire station driveway.
    Some states also prohibit parking opposite fire station driveways, on the other side of the street. If a fire truck needs to attend an emergency call, it must be able to leave the station without obstructions.
  8. Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
    , as fire crews may need to access the hydrant in an emergency. Some state handbooks set this distance at 10 feet, but it is best to keep 15 in mind, just to be sure.
  9. Blocking a private road entrance, driveway or alley.
  10. On a bridge or an overpass.
  11. In a tunnel or underpass.
  12. Anywhere on a lane of opposing traffic.
  13. In a disabled parking space, unless authorized.
  14. On a street or highway right next to another parked vehicle.
    This is called “double parking”.

Looking at this list, it might seem as if there is a lot of parking rules to remember. In fact, most of these restrictions are a matter of common sense. If parking your vehicle somewhere would pose a hazard to other road users or hold up traffic, you can safely assume it is prohibited.

Parking for people with disabilities

Any vehicle occupying a disabled parking space must have license plates or a permit registering the owner as having a disability, or as being the carer of another person with a disability.

Furthermore, the disabled person described in the registration MUST be using the vehicle while it is occupying a disabled space. Otherwise, parking in a reserved disabled space on a street, highway or shopping mall parking lot is illegal.

Disabled person parking placard

Drivers found to be using a disabled parking space illegally will be prosecuted and fined. The penalties for this kind of violation vary around the United States, so check your state’s own driving manual for further details. Identifying reserved disabled parking spaces is easy, as the pavement or curb are usually colored blue and marked with “DISABLED PERMIT ONLY” signs.

Disabled parking space with road markings

No parking signs – the meaning

As clear as the message may seem, many drivers interpret “NO PARKING” signs incorrectly. This is not necessarily the fault of the driver, as there is a distinct lack of in-depth explanation in many state driving handbooks. Not to mention, many different varieties of “NO PARKING” sign. Motorists often believe they are following a “NO PARKING” sign’s instructions, only to find themselves landed with a parking ticket anyway.

How far does the reach of a “NO PARKING” sign extend? What do the arrows and other road markings mean? We will answer these questions below. Here are some parking restriction signs you will likely encounter, complete with their meanings:

  1. 1

    “NO PARKING” sign, without arrows.
    This sign may be accompanied by a stretch of red or yellow painted curb. In this instance, the painted section marks the area where drivers may not park. Where no painted curb markings are present, it is safe to assume that the no parking zone stretches as far as the curb remains unbroken, in both directions. 

  2. 2

    “NO PARKING” sign, arrow pointing left.
    This indicates a no parking zone to the left of the sign. Drivers may park to the right of this sign providing no other restrictions apply. The sign usually reaches as far as the next intersection in the direction the arrow is pointing.

  3. 3

    “NO PARKING” sign, arrow pointing right.
    This indicates a no parking zone to the right of the sign. Drivers may park prior to the sign on the left, providing no other restrictions apply.  The sign usually reaches as far as the next intersection in the direction the arrow is pointing.

  4. 4

    “NO PARKING” sign, arrow pointing both directions.
    Drivers may not park on either side of this sign. The sign usually reaches as far as the next intersection in either direction.

  5. No parking sign with arrows.
  6. 5

    “NO PARKING” sign with times and/or days of the week.
    Parking is prohibited during the times and days listed on the “NO PARKING” sign.


Painted curbs

Painted curbs are often used to draw motorists’ attention to areas where parking is restricted. It is essential that you consult your state’s own driving manual for the meaning of different curb colors, as there is no country-wide standard. The following list can be used for guidance:

  • Yellow curbs: Parking is prohibited, though you may be allowed to stop here for picking up and unloading passengers.
  • Red curbs: Parking is totally prohibited.
  • Blue curbs: Parking is reserved for disabled permit holders only.

In many cases, painted curbs will be clarified with “NO PARKING” signs to help drivers understand their meaning.

Would you pass a driving test today?

Find out with our free quiz!


Like the article? Give us 5 points!

Click a star to add your vote

5.0 out of 5 stars based on 11 votes.

Read next

Angle Parking
Parking 3 of 8

Angle Parking

Angled parking spaces are designed to make parking easy. This maneuver is far less challenging than parallel parking or perpendicular parking but will still take a little practice to get right. Angled parking spaces are painted with the same dimensions pretty much across the whole of America: once you’ve mastered angle parking, you should be able to repeat the maneuver with ease anywhere.

Perpendicular Parking
Parking 4 of 8

Perpendicular Parking

Also known as 90-degree parking, perpendicular parking uses spaces that are arranged at a 90-degree angle in relation to the parking lot lanes. Drivers may enter a perpendicular parking space head-on or in reverse – there is a great deal of debate among highway and traffic safety experts as to which method is better. As reversing is always more challenging, you should begin by mastering the head-on perpendicular parking method and progress to backing-up later.

Parallel Parking
Parking 5 of 8

Parallel Parking

There is no denying that parallel parking is harder than both angle parking and perpendicular parking, though like all things, it can be mastered with practice. ALWAYS practice parallel parking in an empty parking lot before attempting it on the road between real vehicles.

Making Turns 8 of 9

Three Point Turn

Three-point turns are more complex than two-point turns and U-turns. You must know how to execute a safe three-point turn, as they are a standard point of assessment on practical driving tests state-wide. If you need to reverse your direction of travel on a street that is too narrow for a U-turn and has no driveways to allow a two-point turn, making a three-point turn will be your only option.

Making Turns 9 of 9


Making a U-turn is the quickest and easiest way to turn your vehicle around should you need to reverse your direction of travel. This may happen if you find you are traveling in the wrong direction or if you accidentally over-shoot your destination.

Passing 1 of 3

Passing Basics

Passing another vehicle immediately puts you and every road user around you at risk, no matter how safely you execute the maneuver. Passing-related collisions are often high-speed and head-on, which sadly means they are usually fatal. All drivers must learn how and where they should pass other vehicles, in addition to situations in which passing is forbidden.

Passing 2 of 3

Passing: Step-by-Step

When learning to pass another vehicle, the most important skill that new drivers must develop is accurately judging whether there is enough space to pass safely. Overestimating how much room you have could cause a serious collision. When passing at highway speeds, drivers need a 10 to 12 second gap in opposing traffic to execute the maneuver safely. During this gap, you will travel approximately 800 feet, or one third of a mile.

Passing 3 of 3

Illegal Passing

Qualified drivers must keep up-to-date with passing rules and restrictions, as making an illegal pass could earn you a ticket and create a dangerous driving situation. Do not pass another vehicle when your view is limited by a hill, a curve or unfavorable weather conditions. Passing close to intersections, bridges, railroad crossings or school zones is also illegal.

Parking 1 of 8


When learning to drive, you must learn how to angle park, perpendicular park and parallel park. The latter of these three techniques – along with parking on a hill – is almost guaranteed to come up during your practical driving exam. Attempting to park becomes dangerous if you fail to think ahead or allow yourself to get stressed-out by other drivers.