Parking Enforcement Camera Car Gets Snapping

16 July 2010

Wellington City Council is about to start using a car equipped with a camera to take photos of stopping-related offences in areas such as intersections, school and pedestrian crossings, on broken yellow lines and bus stops.

Such offending is usually short in duration and therefore not typically picked up by wardens on foot patrol, but is much more likely to lead to accidents than other types of parking offences.

The Council's acting Infrastructure Director, Maria Archer, says offences related to illegal stopping are most commonly associated with safety risks to school children, other pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. "Additionally they create traffic congestion and are the cause of frustration for many drivers."

The vehicle will use a dashboard-mounted camera to take photos of offending vehicles. Infringement notices will then be mailed to the owners of identified vehicles.

The 18-megapixel camera, with a 180-degree fisheye lens, is mounted on the driver's side of the car. It basically sees what the driver sees and is activated by a shutter button on the door panel. 

The car and its associated enforcement duties will cost about $250,000 a year. This includes vehicle lease, running costs and the issuing, collection and court processing of tickets.

Income from 'ticketing' is initially estimated to be around $375,000/year. It is expected about 30 tickets will be issued per day - typically for $40 to $60 each.

However Ms Archer says the actual number of tickets issued will depend on motorists. "We hope the camera car will prompt a significant reduction in offending. Overseas statistics indicate that offending can decrease by 70% where such enforcement is introduced."

The camera can operate night and day and in a variety of weather conditions. Ms Archer says the Council's parking enforcement contractor, Tenix, uses similar vehicles in Australia.  This will be the first in New Zealand, and is being introduced in Wellington to address the fact that we have one of the highest number of crashes involving pedestrians of any city in New Zealand.

She says the vehicle will be used to patrol problem areas in the city like roads around schools where dangerous and inconsiderate parking by parents on the 'school run' is causing increasing safety concerns - but is difficult to control. "We get parents parking on broken yellow lines, on footpaths, in bus stops and over residential driveways.  They are putting lives at risk, and cause significant safety issues."

The vehicle will also be used to discourage illegal parking on bus stops, particularly on busy nights in Courtenay Place.

Ms Archer says it is very difficult for councils to enforce these offence types via traditional foot patrols as they tend to involve many drivers offending simultaneously. 

"We expect this vehicle will enable us to start providing safer and more robust enforcement - which should encourage errant motorists to improve their habits.

The camera car will complement the Council's existing parking enforcement methods and school safety officers - and is not designed to replace foot patrols.

The infringement notice will be posted to the vehicle's registered owner within 48 hours of the image being taken. The photographs will be available for review on request.