A motoring organisation is calling for councils to be forced to report where the money raised from parking is spent.
The RAC claims this would give drivers assurance that it is being invested back into road and transport improvements, rather than simply plugging budget holes elsewhere."
The report also found that motorists are feeling the squeeze on parking - with rising charges and fewer and smaller spaces.
As many as four in five drivers have reported increasing parking charges in towns and cities.
And 67% of those drivers believed there was now less parking close to their town or city centre and that parking restrictions had become more stringent where they live.
Also 24% of the 1,526 motorists surveyed, said traffic wardens were now more active in their area and 22% said they had seen parking spaces that used to be free become charged for in the last 12 months.
The poll also found that 65% of motorists reported that even when they finally find a space to park, it was too small for today's breed of cars, many of which are wider than previous generations of vehicle because of the addition of side-impact protection features.
It added that London motorists, in particular, had "felt the pain" of increased parking costs, with 59% finding high street parking was hitting their pocket more.
In addition, 41% of motorists believed that the local authority where they lived used the revenue from parking charges to subsidise other areas of non-motoring expenditure.
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RAC technical director David Bizley said: "It's time for a reality check when it comes to parking in Britain.
"We have to find a happy medium between the desire of motorists to get to where they want to go, which our research shows is driven in part by inadequate public transport provision in many parts of the country, and the need to keep our towns and cities moving.
"Parking has always been an emotive issue for the nation's drivers - whether that's caused by driving around city centres endlessly to find an elusive space, or a neighbour mindlessly blocking your driveway."
He went on: "So what is the solution? Britain's local authorities have undoubtedly got a tough job to keep a growing driving population happy while allowing our high streets to thrive and keep traffic moving, but they need to think and act boldly.
"We need transparency. Councils should be compelled to report where the money raised from parking goes - giving drivers assurance that it is being ploughed back into road and transport improvements, rather than just plugging budget holes elsewhere."
A spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: "This report is not a true reflection of the reality of parking in our communities.
"Councils remain on the side of hard-pressed motorists by keeping a lid on parking charges which are only set to rise with inflation this year.
"Councils have to try and strike a balance when setting parking charges to ensure there are spaces available for everyone at all times of the day."
He went on: "Parking charges and fines are essential to help councils keep traffic flowing and pedestrians and motorists safe.
"On-street parking revenue is spent on paying for parking services. Any surplus is spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £12 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.
"Local government is already the most open and transparent part of the public sector. Many councils already publish annual parking reports to make it easier and clearer for residents to understand and combat the deep-rooted misconceptions about parking."
Communities minister Penny Mordaunt said: "Excessive parking charges and unfair parking fines push up the cost of living and undermine local high streets and shopping parades.
"That's why we're stopping the industrial issuing of fines by parking spy cars, introducing 10-minute grace periods at the end of on-street paid for and free parking, and why we've scrapped the last administration's rules which told councils to hike up parking charges and adopt aggressive parking enforcement.
"But we want councils to do more and rein over-zealous parking enforcement, so it focuses on supporting high streets and motorists, not raising money."
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