Parking Authority Vs Law of Unintended Consequences


Parking Authority Vs Law of Unintended Consequences

I was perusing and found an entry concerning Allentown, PA and my favorite law, that of unintended consequences.

It all started when the local parking authority purchased an LPR system to be used as an enforcement tool. Fair enough. They realized however, that folks who parked in the local structures by backing into the spaces could not be scanned by the new system since Pennsylvania doesn’t require license plates on the front of vehicles registered in the state.

A simple solution was to place signs in the garages requiring parkers to pull in forward in the spaces. Except for one minor problem:

As of 2015, the American Automobile Association found rear cross traffic alert systems worked effectively in limited scenarios. Backing into spaces remained a “best practice,” and AAA recommended motorists continue doing so “whenever possible.” (Emphasis Mine)


The Allentown Parking Authority is arguing that since 2018 all vehicles were required to have back up cameras and that should be sufficient to handle safety issues. Not so, says some local residents.

Mandating the parking practice will exacerbate an already chaotic atmosphere in decks following events, said Bob Kudlak, a retired Allentown fire chief…

Kudlak has backed into parking spaces ever since his Dieruff High School driver’s education instructor hammered home the importance of having a clear and unobstructed view when exiting spaces. The practice was reinforced after responding to a number of tragic accidents during his career with the fire department.

“I appreciate the frustration of getting a ticket for something you didn’t contemplate could occur, and there’s no doubt that the parking authority’s adoption of new technologies will bring its fair share of complaints,” Ted Zeller (Board Chairman) said. “We’re always willing to listen to those complaints, and if adjustments are necessary, we will certainly make them. But in this matter, the public safety and other benefits of this new policy and new technology are paramount.”

That last sentence is troubling, but we will see how all this shakes out.

Personally I like to back in because when I get in the car, and head out, I drive forward. It’s the best way to start a trip.

In the mean time, Allentown is brushing right up next to the Law of Unintended Consequences.


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John Van Horn

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