Talking tickets: Fines get polite

2013-05-15 09:55

LONDON, England - What is believed to be the world's first talking "parking ticket" has been developed to discourage parking of vehicles on private property.

When a British landowner finds a car parked illegally on his land he can now issue a ticket that offers a "friendly" spoken warning rather than an instant fine. It's like a musical Christmas card in an envelope and is stuck on the car's windscreen.

The machine, designed by British company FlashPark, plays a "friendly" recorded message warning drivers to move or be fined.

Research showed 6.8-million parking tickets were handed out by  UK city councils in 2012, up from 6.5-million in 2010, though 25% them were disputed and 39% of those challenges succeeded.

FlashPark says its 30-second "audio message ticket" is a viable alternative to a fine.


The UK's Protection of Freedoms Act of 2012 says landowners can discourage people from parking on private property with parking charge notices but enforcement must be fair and reasonable. A warning to the driver that the transgressor's details may be obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and could lead to a fine is automatically added to the end of the message.

The DVLA handed over details of 1.5-million vehicle owners to private enforcement companies in 2012 - and issued an estimated R2.1-billion in penalties.

Ticket developer Costas Constantinou said: "The flexibility of this verbal delivery allows issuers to be as stern or as straightforward as they see fit, depending on the situation."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, was less enthusiastic. "For drivers already nagged to death by their satnavs this is the last thing they will want to hear if they have been slapped with a ticket.

"Perhaps the words should be replaced with soothing music - how about 'Money for Nothing' by Dire Straits?"