An article published in the SMH recently explored what they considered a new phenomenon: parking space ‘squatting’, whereby drivers returning to their cars will sit in the vehicle to use their phones to talk, text or email.
On the one hand, it’s upsetting the normal ‘order’ of things – with the driver expected to vacate the in-demand space instead causing aggravation to other drivers looking for their own parking space. Following a driver back to their vehicle in a packed car park is now no longer a guarantee of securing the spot immediately.
On the other hand, however, safety advocates are pleased to hear that people are using their phones when the vehicles are stationary, saying that perhaps this is the first sign that attitudes are shifting around distracted driving. Driving and using a mobile phone without a handsfree unit is illegal in Australia, and more and more states in the US are banning drivers from texting, with private companies also forbidding employees to use their phone while driving. Drivers are instead pulling over to a safe place to talk, text and email.
It’s an interesting debate and it’s encouraging to see drivers adapting and becoming more conscious of safety. And besides, if the driver has paid for the time for the parking space, aren’t they entitled to use it in any way they wish?