What can be done about reckless parking in Singapore?
SINGAPORE: Cars parked straddling two parking spaces, occupying motorcycle parking lots and blocking other vehicles – Singapore is apparently full of motorists unable to park properly.
Or at least, that’s how it appears on social media.
On Facebook there are many pages and groups dedicated solely to poor parking, such as SG Parking Idiots Community and Please Stop Parking Your Cars In Our Motorbike Lots Leh.
Each page documents hundreds of cases of so-called reckless drivers parking on two – or more – lots, in spaces reserved for disabled drivers or holders of seasonal parking lots, or overspending far from parking space limits.
Meanwhile, on Complaint Singapore, a popular Facebook group with over 100,000 members, there have been around a dozen posts related to poor parking in the past month.
These in turn draw derision from netizens, with comments such as “Bodoh (stupid) and reckless driver” and “How can he pass (sic) the driver’s license.” Siow (crazy) ar? accompanying each example.
People might have different reasons for uploading photos or videos of such offenses online, said Jiow Hee Jhee, program director of the Bachelor of Science (Honors) course in digital communications and integrated media at the Singapore Institute of Technology. (SIT).
For example, they might see the shame of this online behavior as a form of vigilante “justice”, said Dr Jiow, who is a member of the Media Literacy Council, which promotes media literacy and cyber wellness.
While such bad parking habits may simply be seen as a nuisance to other drivers, motorists could be in legal trouble for choosing to park in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In 2019, the Housing Board (HDB) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) – responsible for more than 2,000 car parks – reported having issued an average of 260,800 summons per year for illegal parking between 2016 and 2018.
These include cases where drivers parked their cars in motorcycle or heavy vehicle parking spaces, in addition to those who parked their vehicle in seasonal parking spaces without a valid subscription.
Other parking infractions – as listed on the HDB and URA websites – include parking beyond the parking lot boundaries, causing obstruction, which includes parking in multiple spaces.
What causes people to park badly?
Those who park on reserved or disabled lots may choose to do so as they are often the closest to building entrances, notes Singapore Automobile Association president Bernard Tay.
“They want to park close to where they want to go,” he says.
“When they find the space, they just park the car there (because they think they just need a few minutes, and then they’ll come back down (after doing) their shopping.”
Despite the ubiquity of features like backup cameras in newer cars, parking in multiple lots – preventing other drivers from getting a spot – is regularly featured on social media.
This could be because these drivers are in a hurry, Mr Tay said.
“Either they’re in a hurry or they don’t care,” he said, describing the behavior as “selfish”.
Veteran driving instructor Gordon Thia, 65, suggested that with cars getting bigger and bigger in recent years, some drivers might also have trouble squeezing through tight terrain.
READ: Higher fines for parking infractions from July: HDB, URA
SOLVING THE PARKING PROBLEM
Motorists who illegally park their cars in this manner face fines of S $ 70, while motorcyclists can be fined S $ 35.
Drivers of heavy vehicles who park illegally must pay S $ 100 for the offense.
However, the fines did not deter some motorists.
In 2015, a 46-year-old man was fined S $ 7,000 for 14 parking offenses over a four-month period between 2010 and 2011, after ignoring three reminders and skipping five fine hearings, which initially amounted to S $ 600.
The interior designer had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of illegal parking in a place other than a parking lot, one count of unauthorized parking in a seasonal parking lot, one count of parking beyond the limits of a parking space. parking lot and a parking manager without valid coupon.
Mr Tay, who also chairs the Singapore Road Safety Council, describes these parking infractions as a “difficult problem to solve” with fines.
If the amount is too high, it would be out of reach for some motorists, he told CNA, highlighting the problems this could pose for delivery drivers and others who drive for a living.
Too low, and drivers can park indiscriminately thinking they can afford the penalty they should be paying, he added.
READ: ‘Huge opportunity for space’: what the car-lite means for Singapore’s 1.4 million parking lots
Mr Thia, who has more than four decades of experience as a driving instructor, suggested that imposing demerit points for parking infractions could deter such drivers.
Demerit points are currently imposed for traffic violations, but not for most parking violations, excluding those on public roads such as parking inside a crosswalk or in a non-stop area.
Under the Driver Improvement Point system, any driver who accumulates 24 demerit points within two years will be suspended from driving.
Drivers can incur up to three demerit points for offenses such as not wearing a seat belt or stopping in the area of a pedestrian crossing.
“Giving them more fines doesn’t work very well for Singaporeans. They can afford a lot of these types of payments… I think it will work if you give demerit points to people who park very recklessly, ”Thia said.
He suggested that a system could be developed whereby a lighter penalty of only one demerit point could be imposed for parking infractions.
Education also plays a role, said Tay, suggesting that children could learn to behave properly on the road when they are young.
“Law enforcement can only have a deterrent effect,” he said.
“If everyone is following the rules (and) behaving, there shouldn’t be a problem. But unfortunately everyone wants to take the easy way out. ”
SIT’s Dr Jiow said the online shame of poor parking could do more harm than good, noting that it could lead to cyberbullying if the targets are identifiable.
“I would encourage reporting such incidents to the appropriate authorities and leaving it to them to act,” he said.