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Vancouver mulls prepaid parking to curb impaired driving

Categories: Canada, Community

Vancouver city council is considering prepaid parking to curb drunk driving. (iStock) 

Raise a few too many glasses at the holiday party? Vancouver city council is considering allowing drivers to prepay to leave their vehicles in city parking spots overnight so they may retrieve them the morning after -- sober. 

Modelled after a successful Seattle approach, the initiative was first mulled in November after two University of British Columbia economics students wrote an open letter to council.

"You go out at night, you have a few more drinks than expected and you realize you're probably not in the best state to drive home. You can go to your meter or use a phone app, or do it over the phone and pay for the meter (for) the next day," Curtis Kuznecov, one of the students, told CBC Radio's The 180

"You can pick up your car when you're in a more sober state of mind and be safe to drive home without worrying about your car getting ticketed or towed or you having to wake up early." 

The idea was born out of a drive to Seattle to watch a Seahawks NFL game last year when Kuznecov learned he could front-load two hours onto his parking meter for the next day, saving him a $45 overnight parking fee that his hotel charged, he told The 180.

According to a Vancouver Sun report, Coun. Raymond Louie will put forward a motion Tuesday asking staff to immediately allow drivers to front-load meters for the morning in an effort to deter drunk driving. All Vancouver parking meters are in effect from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Meters have been prepaid more than 45,000 times in Seattle since its April 2011 launch to make city nightlife safer. According to the city's most recent data, usage has continued to climb to an average of more than 2,500 prepaid parking stickers issued every month versus some 600 in its launch month. 

Kuznecov argues that because Vancouver already uses digital meters, smartphone apps, and drivers are able to pay-by-phone, the cost of rolling out a prepaid morning system could be cut down. 

He and fellow economics student Leighton Hay are reviewing on which city streets a prepaid morning system would function well.

Vancouver Metro News report notes that drivers can already buy an extra two hours of parking time in advance by phone the morning of, but Kuznecov told The 180 a prepaid morning system would be "geared more towards that social drinker who didn't really plan ahead."

According to the Vancouver Sun, the motion is seconded by Mayor Gregor Robertson and is expected to pass in city council. 

What do you think of a prepaid morning parking system? Would you like to see a similar initiative in your city? Would you use it if this system existed? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tags: Alcohol, Drinking, Drunk Driving, Impaired Driving, Parking, Seattle, Vancouver

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