Skip to content

Parking fines

Rants I have rabbited on about fines before but on the 12th June 2016 the editorial in Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post called for the raising of parking fines as a means to relieve some of our traffic problems as the current level of fine is too low and does not act as a deterrent. This was in response to a week long crackdown on parking offenders in Central. Of course, once the week was over it was unlikely that the problem would be fixed.

So this is why we need to make a penalty that has some impact. To someone on $20,000 per month a fine of $1500 is a deterrent, to someone on $200,000 per month it is merely an irritation. With the high cost of parking there are plenty of people who consider it is actually more economical to pay the occasional parking fine than to put the car in car park.

The problem with flat rate fines is that they penalise the poor much more than they penalise the rich. This is both unreasonable as well as being ineffective. In Scandinavia fines are means tested, as they are in a number of European countries. An example that gained publicity in 2015 was of a man in Finland travelling at 65mph in a 50mph zone who was fined 54,000 Euros, about HK$470,000. He had an income of 6.5 million euros and was fined accordingly.

If a means tested fine is too complicated, and you can imagine how many 'rich' people actually have very low declared incomes, we may consider alternative penalties that are fair, or equally unfair, to all sections of society. Even driving bans are unfair as the rich can just hire a driver. We need a bit of imagination but, unfortunately, the laws and those who enforce them in the courts are not exactly short of a bob or two.

It is time that we looked for alternative ways to penalise wrongdoers than to issue fines as our current systems offers freedom to flout the law to those who can afford it.