Law and Enforcement

TURBO CHARGED PARKING ENFORCEMENT WITH E-TICKETS

Two Hong Kong traffic wardens in their brown uniforms ponder a black motorbike parked illegally on the pavement

Traffic wardens are often criticised for being reluctant to ticket illegally parked cars and vans: in theory they’ll be able to work faster and more effectively under a new e-ticketing pilot scheme to be launched next week

Traffic wardens will no longer have to scribble elaborate diagrams of illegally parked car situations or scrawl lengthy details onto parking ticket forms, with the pilot “e-Ticketing” scheme planned to launch across three Hong Kong districts next week.

Under the scheme, traffic wardens giving fixed penalty tickets for illegal parking will use smartphones and portable printers to capture the data of offending vehicles, photograph the scene and print the tickets.

Female traffic warden in brown hat takes a photo of a black BMW at a police station in Hong Kong, demonstrating the new traffic tool e-ticketing system

Photos replace descriptive notes and would hold up better in court

The new system should speed up ticketing: under the traditional protocol, traffic wardens were required to make copious notes and diagrams for each ticket given, in case the ticket was challenged in court. Under the new system, photos attached to the ticket file will show the surroundings and prove the car did not have any disabled parking permit in its windscreen, for example, without the need for lengthy and descriptive notes. QR scanning will pull up the vehicle details and a geolocation service on the smartphone will autofill the position, date and time.

According to a police press conference today, around 1% of tickets fail to deliver due to sloppy handwriting or written mistakes. The new e-tickets will also streamline the back-end operation, with tickets uploaded to the police system instantly rather than being input back at the police station after a shift ends.

For drivers, the new printed tickets are exactly the same as the old tickets: it is a quirk of Hong Kong enforcement that the format and exact wording of a Hong Kong parking ticket are enshrined in law (under Cap 237 section 25), and to even change the payment address or telephone numbers requires a change in law. And lawmakers are notoriously reluctant to tamper with any aspect of vehicle enforcement: parking ticket fines remain at HK$320, with no increase for more than a quarter of a century.

Last year, lawmakers did stiffen penalties for other offences, for example, the fine for parking at bus stops was raised to HK$400 and loading or unloading on double yellow lines rose to HK$560. Like the parking fines, these were unchanged since 1994.

The new pilot will start in Wan Chai, Tseung Kwan O and Sham Shui Po on 16 March – with police eventually rolling it out to all 340 traffic wardens in the city.

Police gave 1.4 million fixed penalty tickets in 2019, an average of roughly two per motor vehicle.

Hong Kong parking tickets old and new: top is the new printed tocket, underneat the handwritten ticket. They are actually identical - and the fine remains the same for 26 years

Spot the difference: printed ticket above and handwritten below. The HK$320 fine has not changed for 26 years.

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