Community leaders fear the streets of Inverness and other Highland towns could be brought to a standstill during the busy festive season because of a shortage of traffic wardens.
Council officials have received a string of reports of “exploitation” of parking rules in Inverness, Fort William, Dingwall and Wick.
Complains include cars left on footpaths and unauthorised use of disabled, loading and coach bays.
Inverness central councillor Donnie Kerr said he was worried that a lack of enforcement over the Christmas shopping period would lead to more problems.
The city is currently the only area in Highland to have traffic wardens.
Just two staff remain out of a team which numbered 11 in September 2012.
The current arrangement is jointly funded by the police and Highland Council.
However, a new system, which will include 13 full-time equivalent parking attendants across the Highlands, is still several months away from being introduced.
Traffic wardens were often used to control the flow of vehicles at the busy Rose Street car park in the city and at Inverness Retail Park on the A96 road to Aberdeen.
Mr Kerr said he feared for traffic in the festive period if the traditional checks were not in place.
“It will be interesting to see what happens at Christmas,” he said.
“I would be concerned if we did not have adequate coverage in Inverness and other commercial centres in the Highlands.”
His ward colleague, Janet Campbell said: “Traders are dependent on the Christmas period and the lack of proper traffic management could be yet another problem.”
Manager of Inverness Business Improvement District, Mike Smith said he shared the concerns and called for the police and council to provide more staff to deal with traffic problems.
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Brian Murphy said he had received a number of complaints about parking in and around the town centre and the problem was frequently raised at community council meetings.
He said: “In some places there are problems with people parking in places that obstruct roads and in others they are parking on the pavements and blocking the way for pedestrians.”