Tag Archive | "parking"

A Motoring App Too Far?

Fancy being a traffic warden, only without the abuse and the ill-fitting uniform? Well, if a company across the pond has its way you too can dish out parking tickets anonymously and get paid for it. This is a rather nasty form of what the originators are calling ‘crowd sourced parking control’.

It apparently stems from their own bitter experiences whereby the parking spots adjacent to their business were being ‘abused’ and their customers couldn’t park. As a consequence they have decided they will turn driver against driver based pretty much on that aggrieved person’s opinion.

Anyone can use this app. Rather disingenuously they say that their product is designed for use on private land and car parks and that they are not intended for, say, council run parking; but here in the real world this is not going to happen is it?

Once downloaded to the device the app allows anyone to take an image, along with the location and number plate of a vehicle whose time has expired or is badly parked and send it to the car park’s operator. If a ticket is successfully issued and a fine paid then the app user is supposed to get a cut of the dosh. Lovely.

This unpleasant advance follows on from the increasing use of dashboard cams to film the exploits of allegedly bad drivers and forward it to the authorities or upload it to websites. Dozens of penalties have been issued to people caught in this way. It is a sign of the times that over eighty thousand ‘likes’ have been given on a social network that encourages people to ‘shame’ badly parked car owners with a public image. Is this an adjunct of the troll society that has blighted so many lives?

The manufacturer of this app say they want to give power to the people and harness the ‘power of the crowd’, for which presumably read ‘mob’. Right now they are talking to parking companies around the world to whom this is likely to appeal as, at a stroke, they essentially recruit freelance staff. If anyone is naive enough to think that this won’t be abused is living in a different world to most of us.

Nobody likes bad or thoughtless parking any more than they do bad or thoughtless driving, but surely we already have a body of people dedicated to the law. They are called the police. Private companies have their wardens as do councils. Why should something like this even be considered necessary? It is a step too far and turns motorist against motorist, Sadly, it is very likely to be successful.

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Toyota Working For Greater Safety

Toyota haven’t had a lot of luck lately, what with all the recalls they’ve suffered but that hasn’t stopped them working hard on new ways to keep us safe on the roads. They are investing time, money and energy into an integrated Intelligent Transport System.

For a start there’s the Pre-Crash Safety System that already appears on some Toyota and Lexus models. This has been augmented with a collision avoidance function to help lessen the impact or even prevent rear end shunts. Toyota reckon that most such accidents occur when the difference in speed between the two vehicles is within 37mph. The device triggers an alarm telling the driver to brake. In addition to this the device will greatly and automatically increase the brake pressure to achieve a speed reduction of 37mph. If the driver still hasn’t woken up to the event the car will do the job itself. Road conditions will obviously be a factor to the overall performance of this technology, though.

The company further believe that the majority of crashes are caused by drivers selecting the wrong gear or stamping on the wrong pedal. The ‘Intelligent Clearance Sonar and Drive-Start Control’ detects obstacles outside the vision of the driver and, in turn, sounds an alarm, reduces engine power and applies the brakes in the possible chance of a collision. This is especially useful if parking. Similarly, Drive-Start Control can tell when the wrong gear is selected. The engine power is reduced thus preventing any sudden bursts of acceleration.

To further their aims to keep us safe on the roads, Toyota is opening a brand new proving facility to further develop this ‘intelligent’ technology. This will simulate city centre road conditions. Their aim is to further reduce fuel consumption whilst making the cars we drive – and including the pedestrians and other road users around us – increasingly safe.

It’s just unfortunate that the company has had so many recall problems recently because this must impact on their ability to fund this sort of advanced research. Presumably, other manufacturers, to a greater or lesser extent, will be working on their own systems too. A functioning driverless car can’t be too far away now.

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Kerb Your Enthusiasm

With the advent of a new year comes new possibilities. At least, this is how Gwynedd Council in North Wales are looking at it. Apparently they have decided that it isn’t sufficient to just penalise drivers for parking in the wrong place or going over time in car parks, they now believe that how a car is parked is also ripe for exploitation.

This forward-looking council have started penalising any driver who parks more than fifty centimetres (that’s twenty inches in English) from the kerb. Do so and you’ll cop a £70 fine. Now, it’s fair to say that 50cm is quite a long way in gap terms and anyone parking in such a way could best be described as ‘sloppy’. Kerbing an alloy usually means an expensive repair, but most experienced drivers could probably manage to get within the limit as a matter of routine unless they stop in an enthusiastic manner to greet an old friend or to escape the attentions of an angry wasp in the cabin.

Anyone, even disabled drivers, will be punished even if there are no parking restrictions whatever. Traffic wardens are required to actually measure the gap, they can’t just estimate it by eye. Presumably they will take a snap as well. More pertinently and reasonably, they are also targeting motorists who park over dropped kerbs designed to accommodate pedestrians, wheel chair users and the like. That’s fair enough because blocking such access is a thoughtless action.

The council intends this as a warning to those who park, in their words, ‘recklessly’, which is a bit over-the-top, frankly; although some people are capable of such bad parking that they could impede emergency vehicles. They have done this, they say, in response to complaints about bad parking in popular holiday areas. They don’t actually say how many complaints but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth?

Inevitably locals are outraged as they see it as yet another ruse to extract cash from the public. The sight of a kneeling traffic warden bending over the kerb, buttocks aloft, may prove to be just too tempting for some drivers to resist. It is things like this that give councils a bad name. It seems such a petty thing to do. By all means penalise people who park irresponsibly but to punish a pensioner for a simple error of judgement seems like a tax too far.

It is of course only a matter of time before other councils pick up on this and begin measuring kerb to tyre distances. Just one more thing for hard-pressed drivers to worry about. In the meantime, if you’re taking a holiday in North Wales this year make sure there’s a tape measure and a camera in the glove box! You didn’t hear it from us though.

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Clamping Down On Clampers

Anyone who has stood arguing with some brainless hulk who has just stuck a big yellow clamp on your car wheel without – as you see it – good cause, will know how frustrated and impotent you can feel. For old folks it can also be a very frightening experience.

What’s worse, if you do have the, how shall we say, skills to deal with the odious ratbag you then become a criminal in the eyes of the law. In short, you can’t win in these situations.

Thankfully and not before time, our MP’s have now made it illegal to clamp a car on private land. That’s right – in case you weren’t aware, as of the 1st October 2012 it is now against the law to immobilise your motor. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to on-road parking.

Here at Motor Blogger we like to keep abreast of the news because it is surprising how many people are unaware of this change. This means that unscrupulous clampers could still take advantage of the unwary. If caught parking illegally (if you remember all the fuss about poor or non-existent signage on private car parks) the landowner can still demand your personal details and require some recompense. Drivers should also be aware that the DVLA is legally obliged (!) to sell vehicle licence information to private parking companies. Over seventy percent of you – the innocent – think this is wrong.

The answer of course is to ensure you are rightfully parked. This latest news is a step in the right direction and it makes sense to know your rights. Did you know, for example, that there will soon be an independent tribunal service to help drivers challenge unfair parking tickets issued on private land? Full marks if you did but most didn’t when asked. Watch this space for news on that.

Parking on private property has always been a risky business as there are many dodgy characters out there all too keen to rip off the motorist. Always check signage and if in doubt take some photos of the location and the signs. Pay your fee, don’t overstay your welcome and know your rights.

In typical fashion there has not been much in the way of government public information issued to let us know about these changes. The new legislation has come out with a whimper rather than a bang. As ever, this leaves it up to us to get the facts. No change there then. Be sure that you do.

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The Appeal of Parking Tickets

You know the feeling. You’re walking back to your car in your usual nonchalant, happy fashion – possibly reciting a recently discovered poem or saying good day to the flowers – when you espy something stuck on the windscreen of your car. Suddenly, the poetry has gone from your life as you realise you are not quite as wealthy as you used to be. You’ve been ticketed.

It doesn’t have to be like that. First off and obviously, don’t park where you are not wanted. There are many unscrupulous parking scams on dubious looking car parks but let’s just deal with officialdom for now.

In 2011, town halls issued an increasing number of parking tickets with a total of 6.8 million by year end. That’s an awful lot of revenue. Nevertheless 39% of these tickets were successfully appealed, albeit down from 47% the previous year. What does this tell you? It means you have rights and you should exercise them. The sad fact is that many people just shrug, feel vaguely aggrieved and cough up without realising that they may have grounds to have the ticket rescinded. Regional success rates vary with a bulging 72% being successful in Chichester against a scrawny 11% in Bradford. What does that tell you about parking attendants in Sussex?

It is not unreasonable to expect councils and indeed anyone trying to enforce parking restrictions to ensure that their signage and lines are clear, obvious and unambiguous. Date and timing should be absolutely correct on the pay and display ticket. For example, in Yorkshire there is a private car park attendant who will hover over your car in the minutes before the ticket expires and clamp on the instant it does. No second chances. He will even laugh in your face. This is what the public has to deal with. The good news is that clamping is now illegal on private land. That news must have wiped the smile off his face!

Fortunately, there are many sources of information available to you in the form of reputable online advice. Have a browse. There are formal avenues you can go down depending on the type of ticket (PCN’s, ECN’s and SCN’s) and the issuing body, but you can’t delay. If you feel you have been wrongly penalised for whatever reason, don’t give up. It’s aggravating to have to chase up these things when you’ve got better things to do but how much money has been collected illegally or incorrectly from drivers who didn’t bother?

Finally – this will make you laugh. Here’s a direct quote from Mr Bob Neill, a local government minister. He said: “There is no excuse for town halls using parking fines and motorists as cash cows. There are plenty of other ways for councils to raise extra income or make savings like better procurement and sharing back-office services”.

Funny guy – not! This is the government that is squeezing the life out of drivers at the pumps and on the road with various tax increases whilst trying to lay the blame on petrol companies. There’s not much we can do about that but at least you know that with a parking ticket there is something you can do.

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Official – Women Are The Best Parkers

That’s car parking, by the way, not nosey parking. Now it’s no good you male readers getting all hot under the collar about this, a new study from NCP – and they should know – allegedly proves that the fairer sex (can I still use that phrase? Perhaps it should now be ‘alternative gender‘?) have the upper hand when it comes to parking a car.

NCP have apparently carried out exhaustive tests to show that women are more skilled when it comes to driving into a space. They analysed 450 examples using their CCTV records. In addition, 2000 drivers were quizzed about their technique, accuracy and time taken to complete the manoeuvre. From this they extrapolated something called a ‘parking coefficient’ and it turns out that women received 13.4 out of 20 whilst men struggled with a puny 12.3.

It gets worse, or better, depending on your point of view. The ladies, it seems, had a better ‘pre-parking pose’ the outcome of which is a more successful manoeuvre. Just to rub it in 53% also finished centrally in their bay compared to the chaps of whom only a pathetic 25% could manage it.

These figures fly in the face of some statistics from three years ago which appeared to show that men, obviously, still had the edge. The older stats clearly demonstrated that the girls took an extra 20 seconds to park up yet failed dismally to end up in the middle. In this test 65 volunteers were asked to park an Audi A6 into a standard space in three different ways – head-on, reverse and parallel parking. They were timed and rated for accuracy.

While the researchers expected the women volunteers to be slower, they were surprised to find that the cautious approach did not lead to a tidier final result. Dr Claudia Wolf from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, who led the study, said that the research confirmed previous findings that men have better co-ordination and spatial awareness than women, and take more risks behind the wheel. How she must have hated revealing this!

There’s an old saying that you only learn to drive after you’ve taken your test and it is probably true. Parking is a skill that comes with time. It’s best to reverse into a space as it makes your exit easier and safer. Try to park centrally otherwise your ears will be burning when the next driver tries to squeeze into a reduced area. Less opportunity for door bangers as well!

So, you will say, the tests are not conclusive then. Three years and two entirely different sets of results. Who will ever know the real truth? Let’s just call it a draw.

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Mum Is A Better Driver Than Dad – Discuss

The word on the street is that all male drivers believe that women should not be driving and that the place of the lady / wife / partner (delete as appropriate) is in the kitchen, possibly baking, whilst wearing pretty dresses and smelling of a discreet, but never provocative, perfume.

Here at Motor Blogger, of course, we would never, ever subscribe to such a theory. Perish the thought. Absolutely unacceptable; and it seems that the children of Britain agree, as a survey suggests that they prefer Mum to drive. Now, all parents know that children will brown-nose the adult who can provide the necessary service / lift / cash advance (delete as appropriate) at any given point in time. They are wily creatures. However, a massive 60% of ankle-biters have stated that, when the mother is driving, they are happier and more relaxed.

Apparently Mum is more considerate to other road users and does not lane-hop. Road rage is unknown. Mums are also likely to engage in lively conversation to keep the family happy, even to the point of cheerily singing, and are the parent of choice for the school run. Unfortunately the kids have also sort of grassed Mum up about stalling the car and her bizarre inability to park in a space the size of a football pitch. Now, before you Ladies start reaching for the Molotov cocktails, please remember that we’re only reporting a survey. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Fathers, meanwhile, get a bit of a raw deal. They drive too fast and too aggressively. They are prone to road rage and are seen as a bad example to the future driver in the back seat; but let’s go for a bit of fairness here, shall we? Not all men are road hogs; some are the saints of the streets, always ready to absolutely maximise the mileage out of a gallon of petrol, even if it means driving at 30mph in the middle lane of a motorway. These tarmac heroes will always know a shortcut from Stevenage to Basingstoke, even if you don’t want to go there, and are ready with technical advice at the drop of a clutch.

So balance in all things, right? Children will say anything to keep in with Mum. It’s a well known fact. So in the meantime I’m going to give you two quotes from my old man which have stood me in good stead over the years:

“If you don’t stop moaning I’m going to turn this car around and go home just as soon as I can get past this cretin!” and “Ask your Mother!”

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