Driver Knowledge Tests

What is good etiquette for charging your electric car in public?

The more of us that purchase electric vehicles, the more demand there will be at the limited number of public charging stations, and because charging takes so long in comparison to filling up a car with petrol or diesel, there are bound to be annoyed people with frayed tempers who want to get on their way without having to wait an hour.

Each charging point that is provided for the public’s use will have a set of rules set by the company providing it. In addition, you must not do anything that endangers other people.

So, what are the tips for harmonious charging?

  1. If the charging point is part of a car park at, for example, a shopping centre, it’s not an all-day park, and if you’re not charging, it is absolutely not a parking spot.
  2. Only leave your car in the charging bay for as long as it takes to fill it as much as you need. This might not be to 100%. A charging app can notify you when it’s time to move it.
  3. Don’t charge any more than the charger allows otherwise you could be unplugged and towed away, or clamped and fined.
  4. Don’t park your internal combustion engine car in an electric vehicle spot. No, putting the charging cable into the bonnet doesn’t fool people. You are likely to be towed.
  5. Do park close enough to the charger so that the cable isn’t stretched, and you minimise hazards for other people.
  6. Do remember to unhook the charger before trying to start the car and drive off. Almost all EVs will prevent you from actually driving away while it’s hooked up, but you can turn on the ignition to use the radio or air conditioning.
  7. If the charging point is not obvious, write a note and put it in your window to let people know you are charging; including a time you will be back is courteous, too.
  8. If your vehicle doesn’t accept rapid charges, don’t park in a rapid charging bay.
  9. If you are driving a PHEV or dual fuel vehicle, and the charging bays are busy or occupied, consider continuing your journey using petrol.
  10. Do put the cables away neatly. This helps prolong their life, it makes it easier for the next person who comes along to connect their vehicle, and it means that the cables don’t get so dirty.
  11. Do charge at home when you can so that you don’t overload the public system; chargers are kept for those who really need them at the time.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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