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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
FRIENDLY POLICE WARNING THING OF THE PAST
Parking enforcement now in private hands
Starting Thursday, parcel delivery and other drivers who stop briefly in an unauthorized spot and leave their vehicle may come back to find it sporting a parking ticket.
The revised Road Traffic Law, which takes effect Thursday, allows private companies under police employ to write parking tickets to drivers who park illegally, including the parcel delivery vans that are an ubiquitous part of the urban landscape, their drivers running from building to building with cartloads of items to be signed for.
The change is aimed at freeing up police to focus more time and energy on fighting serious crimes instead of misdemeanors.
According to the National Police Agency, the number of parking violations handled by police stood at about 2.54 million in 1995. But the number dropped to 1.59 million in 2005 reportedly because police were too busy investigating crimes, which were rising.
Some 270 police stations nationwide, mainly in urban areas where traffic congestion is severe, authorized 74 companies to provide parking enforcement services. These police stations handled 60 percent of total parking violations processed nationwide.
The companies employ 1,600 NPA-authorized patrollers, who have received special training.
When the uniformed patrollers, who will work in pairs, find a car parked in an unauthorized location, they will photograph the vehicle at the site, record information in a mobile terminal, print a ticket and attach it to the car.
If the driver returns before the procedure is completed, which takes about five minutes, patrollers will simply issue a verbal warning.
The procedure practiced under the previous system required that police first make a chalk mark on a vehicle's tire and on the street as a warning. The vehicle would be ticketed if it hadn't moved before police came back up to 30 minutes later.
Under the revised law, vehicle owners must pay the parking ticket if who ever was driving it at the time fails to pay. The fine will remain the same, between 15,000 yen to 18,000 yen, for cars.
Authorities will not renew certificates for mandatory car inspections if the owner has not paid all fines.