Councils are profiting from parking charges to the tune of £667 million a year.
An RAC Foundation study shows this is the amount local authorities made in 2013/14, once running costs had been deducted from penalty notice and parking charge income.
London motorists appear to be hardest hit, with capital-based councils generating 44% of the £667 million sum.
Westminster was the biggest profit-making council with a surplus of £51 million, with four fellow London authorities making it a clean sweep for the capital in the top five.
The figures suggest that parking charges are a significant addition to the motorists' financial burden alongside the standard petrol, repairs, road tax and car insurance bills.
Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Parking profits seem to be a one-way street for councils, having risen annually for the last five years.
"Yet over the same period spending on local roads has fallen about a fifth in real terms.
"We understand the pressures councils are under with their overall income still falling and the level of services they have to provide in such areas as social care rising rapidly."
Professor Glaister continued: "One sign that the escalation in parking profits might be coming to an end is that much of this year's increase comes not from growing income from penalties and charges but cuts in the cost of parking operations.
"This suggests local authorities are making efficiency savings and should bring some good news to both drivers and council tax payers.
"The bottom line is that parking policy and charges must be about managing traffic not raising revenue."
English councils' parking profit overall is 12% up on the £594 million the previous financial year. Only around one in six (16%) parking authorities run at a loss, the RAC Foundation reported.
One silver lining for motorists is that it seems that several authorities are drastically reducing their running costs. On-street parking costs alone fell 10% in 2013/14.
Copyright Press Association 2014