Sunday, April 10, 2011

School Zone Parking?

As anyone familiar with the Parking Map knows, the symbol above shows parking is prohibited Mon – Fri from 7 am to 4pm. This next is the clock that shows school zone parking restrictions.

Now the question has been asked how are they different? [Answer: They’re not.] So why doesn’t the map distinguish between year round and school year parking restrictions?
School parking restrictions are tricky. An averagely frustrated driver, like myself, looking for a space on a hot July night might reasonably assume school is out of session the following day and therefore the “school days” parking restrictions are temporarily not in effect. But there is Summer School and as one ticket agent explained to me, any function (meeting, planning board, fundraiser, etc.) taking place in the school during otherwise normal school days keeps the parking restrictions in effect. So if you are confident in your knowledge of a school’s off-year schedule where you want to remain parked the following day and are willing to defend that knowledge against a ticket that a lazy or inept ticket agent snuck under your windshield wiper, you can park there.
In our parking map it was thought that the chances that the average driver would have this kind of information was slim, and in the desert haze that thirsts to be done with parking for the night, such information could too easily be imagined. So it was decided to err on the side of caution and school parking restrictions were not singled out by month or school year.
If you think this was too drastic, consider the following very scientifically controlled study:
Ticket agents have the senses of a shark and the minds of an attorney. No, they really are two separate things. If you are parked in a school zone when school is not in session, but you get a ticket, you have to fight the ticket. Many won’t. (Ticket 20% effective) You may not even know about the other uses an empty school building can be put to which, if you don’t cover them, will probably doom your defense (Ticket 50% effective). If you do, you will still have to prove that there was no other function taking place at the school on that day which could be very time consuming, even complicated to prove (Ticket 70% effective), or you could get a bad judge to hear your case (Ticket 80% effective). How many ticket agents would not write a ticket with an 80% chance of success?* [Answer: a very honest one.]

* Percentages of ticket effectiveness are rounded off and may be approximate.