Kiwis flustered by parking rule
By ESTHER HARWARD - Sunday Star Times
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2010

Kiwis are rubbish at backing into parking spaces and plans to force us to reverse when parking will lead to more accidents, the Automobile Association warns.

Women drivers, the elderly and anyone with a sore back or neck are picked to be most flustered by the change, the AA says.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) wants an overhaul of our roading signs including the right to put up signposts requiring motorists to reverse into angled parking spaces. One of the reasons is to make roads safer for cyclists.

If the change is passed at the end of the year, drivers who disobey a "reverse-in" road sign will be liable for a $40 fine under the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties Regulations) 1999.

"Reverse-in" parking is common in some overseas cities, including in Sydney and Melbourne, usually in streets where traffic speeds are forcibly slowed to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Because drivers pull out of parking spaces front-first, they have a clearer view than they would if reversing out.

But AA spokesman Mark Stockdale says motorists would find reverse parking confusing. "Nine times out of 10, when you go to find a park it'll be forward-in, and you're not allowed to reverse in you can actually get a ticket if you reverse in."

Stockdale says angled parking spaces are typically harder to back into.

In a submission to NZTA, the AA warned New Zealanders are inexperienced at judging "rear overhang", meaning how much a car's back bumper protruded out of a parking space.

The AA said: "This may be particularly true for elderly drivers with limited neck movement or confidence, who may find it difficult to complete the manoeuvre, and this could lead to more frustration for other road users."

And, according to a study published last year from Ruhr University in Germany, women are likely to run into problems with the manoeuvre: they take an average of 20 seconds longer to park and are still more likely to miss the mark.

Stockdale said there should be a grace period of three to six months so drivers did not get flustered if they could not pull off a reverse park manoeuvre straight away.

People might have to practise in their driveways to get it right, he said.

If the rule comes in, it would be up to councils and the NZTA to impose it (technically they can already, but few do, and the NZTA says national signage would make it easier for councils to bring in the rule).

Not every angled parking space would require the reverse move it would only apply if the angle is more than 90, so vehicles face the same direction as traffic flow.

From here.