SINGAPORE: Cars parked straddling two parking spaces, occupying motorcycle lots, and blocking other vehicles - Singapore is apparently chock full of motorists who are unable to park properly.
Or at least, that is how it appears on social media.
On Facebook, numerous pages and groups exist dedicated solely to poor parking, such as SG Parking Idiots Community and Please Stop Parking Your Cars In Our Motorbike Lots Leh.
Each page documents hundreds of cases of so-called inconsiderate drivers who park across two - or more - lots, in spaces reserved for disabled drivers or season parking holders, or jutting far out of the confines of parking spaces.
Meanwhile on Complaint Singapore, a popular Facebook group with more than 100,000 members, there have been about a dozen posts related to bad parking in the past month.
These in turn attract the derision of netizens, with comments such as “Bodoh (stupid) and inconsiderate driver” and “How can he or she passed (sic) the driving licence. Siow (crazy) ar?” accompanying each example.
People could have different reasons for uploading photos or videos of such offences online, said Jiow Hee Jhee, programme leader of the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Digital Communications and Integrated Media course at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
For example, they could see shaming such behaviour online as a form of vigilante "justice", said Dr Jiow, who is a member of the Media Literacy Council, which promotes media literacy and cyber wellness.
Though such bad parking habits might simply be seen as an annoyance to other drivers, motorists could get into legal trouble for choosing to park in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In 2019, the Housing Board (HDB) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) - which are responsible for more than 2,000 carparks - reported issuing an average of 260,800 summons each year for illegal parking between 2016 and 2018.
These include cases where drivers had parked their cars in motorcycle or heavy vehicle parking spaces, in addition to those who parked their vehicles at season parking spaces without valid season tickets.
Other parking offences - as listed on the websites of the HDB and the URA - include parking beyond the boundaries of the parking lot thereby causing obstruction, which includes parking across multiple spaces.
WHAT DRIVES PEOPLE TO PARK BADLY?
Those who park in reserved or disabled lots may choose to do so because these are often the closest to the entrances of buildings, notes Automobile Association of Singapore president Bernard Tay.
“They want to park near the place they want to go,” he said.
“When they find the space, they just park the car there (because) they think they just need a couple of minutes and then they will come down (after they run) their errands.”
Despite the ubiquity of features such as rear-view cameras in newer cars, parking across multiple lots - thereby blocking other drivers from getting a space - is regularly featured on social media.
This could be because such drivers are in a rush, said Mr Tay.
“Either they are in a hurry, or they just don’t care,” he said, describing such behaviour as “selfish”.
Veteran driving instructor Gordon Thia, 65, suggested that with cars becoming larger in recent years, some drivers could also be having problems with squeezing into narrow lots.
SOLVING THE PARKING PROBLEM
Motorists who park their cars illegally in such a manner face fines of S$70, while motorcyclists who do so can be fined S$35.
Heavy vehicle drivers who park illegally have to pay S$100 for the offence.
Yet fines have not deterred some motorists.
In 2015, a 46-year-old man was fined S$7,000 for 14 parking offences over a four month period between 2010 and 2011, after ignoring three reminders and skipping five court sessions for the fines, which initially amounted to S$600.
The interior designer had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of illegally parking in a place other than a parking lot, one count of unauthorised parking in a season parking lot, a count of parking beyond the boundaries of a parking space and one count of parking without a valid coupon.
Mr Tay, who also chairs the Singapore Road Safety Council, describes such parking offences as a “difficult problem to solve” with fines.
If the amount is too high, it would be out of reach for some motorists, he told CNA, pointing to the problems this could impose on delivery drivers and others who drive for a living.
Too low, and drivers may park indiscriminately thinking they can afford the penalty they would have to pay, he added.
READ: 'A huge opportunity for space': What going car-lite means for Singapore’s 1.4 million parking lots
Mr Thia, who has more than four decades of experience as a driving instructor, suggested the imposition of demerit points for parking offences could deter such drivers.
Demerit points are currently imposed for traffic offences but not most parking offences, excluding those on public roads such as parking within a pedestrian crossing or within a no stopping zone.
Under the Driver Improvement Points System, any driver who accumulates 24 demerit points within two years will be suspended from driving.
Drivers can incur up to three demerit points for offences such as failing to wear a seatbelt or stopping in the area of a zebra crossing.
“Giving them more fines does not work very well on Singaporeans. They can afford a lot of these sort of payments … I think it will work if you give demerit points to people who park in a very inconsiderate way,” said Mr Thia.
He suggested a system could be worked out where a lighter penalty of a single demerit point could be given for parking offences.
Education also plays a role, said Mr Tay, suggesting children could be taught proper road behaviour when they are young.
“Enforcement can only act as a deterrent,” he said.
“If everybody follows the rules (and) behaves themselves, there shouldn’t be a problem. But unfortunately everybody wants to take the easy way out.”
SIT's Dr Jiow said online shaming of bad parking could do more harm than good, noting it could lead to cyberbullying if the targets are identifiable.
"I would encourage reporting such incidents to the proper authorities and leave it to them to take action," he said.