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Paying extra for parking spaces

Article PhotoAcross Sydney and other parts of NSW, parking can be difficult and expensive.

While some local councils and the state government are working hard to increase the number of parking spaces, a new study has found that parking meters might be the overarching problem.

According to new parking app provider CellOPark, Australians are spending around $15 million extra as a result of 'parking fine paranoia'. Essentially, motorists are deliberately overfeeding parking meters by an average of $2 each time to avoid fines.

Michael Doherty, general manager at CellOPark explained that drivers are essentially scared of the consequences and pay extra just to cover all the possibilities.

"Drivers are being hit with fines left, right and centre, so it's no surprise they're guestimating and over-feeding the meter," he said.

"Taking out this form of 'parking insurance' shouldn't be necessary. There is a real need to update and revitalise the country's parking systems to make it easier and fairer for motorists."

Why is this a problem?

Mr Doherty stated that many motorists know how paid parking works and get back to their vehicle in time. However, in some cases, it is the parking technology the lets the system down.

A total of 18 per cent of Australian drivers have received a parking fine because a meter or parking machine was not working properly. This could include the meter being broken, inaccessible or even confusing and impossible to find.

In these situations, more than half (51 per cent) have still had to pay the fine.

Mr Doherty explained that the parking machines are not reliable anymore and noted 80 per cent of survey respondents wanted the system to change.

"The way we pay for parking has changed very little in over the past 40 years and it's time for City Councils to address the issue," he summarised.

"People just want to pay for the time they use and modernising the parking payment process will eradicate the unnecessary overfeeding that is currently occurring, saving motorists hundreds of dollars in the process."

How does NSW compare to the rest of Australia?

CellOPark presented figures that illustrate the extent of the parking problems in Australia. It is interesting to note that NSW features highly in many of the statistics - not a good sign for the state's drivers.

NSW drivers overfed parking meters the most in the past 12 months, contributing $5 million, compared to Victoria ($3.8 million) and Queensland ($2.25 million). NSW motorists also pay the most on average per driver ($2.50), well ahead of South Australia ($2.04) and Western Australia ($1.91).

However, NSW is not the state with the most drivers who feel they were unfairly hit with a parking fine. A total of 23 per cent of Western Australian drivers revealed this feeling, followed by 21 per cent of New South motorists and 18 per cent of South Australians.

What are the alternatives for authorities?

With drivers paying too much for parking, there are growing calls to use smartphone technology more freely. There are several options already on the market that allows drivers to calculate how long they have been in the parking space through an app and then pay online.

"We believe there is a better way to pay for parking. Many industries have gone paperless and are becoming mobile-centric. There is no reason why parking can't be brought into the 21st century too," Mr Doherty concluded.

In fact, 75 per cent of Australians (NSW 78 per cent) believe smartphones can play a role in parking in the future.

Unpaid parking fines can have serious consequences. They can affect licencing, registration and CTP green slip insurance.