Motorists often come across parking attendants or enforcement officers at parking lots. Typically, their job is to ensure that drivers follow rules and abide by regulations governing parking. Also known as parking attendants, parking enforcement officers are vital to ensuring smooth parking management and regulating the flow of vehicles into parking lots. In case of parking lots are metered, they are also known as meter attendants.
Parking enforcement officers are employed by the traffic department and are thus licensed to issue parking tickets and impose fines on recalcitrant motorists. They can also order the violators’ vehicles to be towed away. Further, parking enforcement officers have to notify the traffic department about the tickets issued, maintain accurate records, and note parking violations.
What Does a Parking Enforcement Officer Do?
Whenever a parking enforcement officer notices cars parked in wrong lots or any other violation, they issue a parking ticket. After this, the officer notifies the traffic department about the fine. In turn, the authorities send a formal notification to the driver, who then has to pay the fine within a specified time.
In recent years, some cities the world over have expanded the role of the parking enforcement officers to include traffic control and basic policing. These range from helping traffic police during carnivals and important sporting events as well as assisting them in noticing violations and taking action.
How are Parking Enforcement Officers Different From the Police?
Enforcement officers and police officers differ in their scope of responsibilities and duties. While the former is restricted to deal with parking alone, the latter can also impose fines for jaywalking and other offenses. Parking enforcement officers are treated as civilians without law and order duties. Of course, they can call the police for help in case of accidents and crimes, acting as a witness for the police. They can also help the traffic police in locating stolen cars and identifying abandoned vehicles.
Traffic Police in India
In India, the traffic police are mandated to enforce parking rules and hold the power to fine, lock or tow a vehicle found violating the traffic rules. According to Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the traffic police can levy a fine of Rs. 100 for a single parking offense and Rs. 200 for repeated offense. Parking violations are defined as:
1) Obstruction of traffic
2) Obstruction of pedestrian movement
3) Parking in no-parking zones
4) Parking in a wrongful manner
While enforcement is key to smooth parking, a lack of resources and technological intervention has undermined enforcement in most Indian cities. Moreover, the Road Safety Guidelines for promoting awareness of traffic and parking rules have a number of shortcomings directly affecting road-use behavior. Thus, in an Indian context, the current challenge is effectively enforcing rules and regulations through better monitoring of parking.
The Evolving Role of Parking Enforcement Officers
The role of the parking enforcement officer has evolved much from the time they were known as meter maids and then parking attendants, to the present where they work in a restricted policing role. Parking itself has been transformed as a result of automation and hence, with smart-parking and mobile app-enabled parking solutions, parking enforcement officers are likely to see diminished responsibilities in the future.