Parking a Car or Other Vehicle, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

Life in the USA is a complete guide to American life for immigrants and Americans. All materials on this site Copyright © Elliot Essman 2014. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Life in the USA
Transportation
The Automobile

Parking
Parking is another constant problem, especially in big cities. Commercial parking lots and garages can be expensive in cities, and free parking may be difficult or impossible to find. Parking meters are everywhere in the United States, though even areas with meters may have some hours in which parking is forbidden.

Parking Meters. Traditionally, meters required parkers to deposit coins to park for a specified period of time, say 25 cents for each fifteen minutes with up to a two hour limit. More and more, parkers are required to deposit coins or bills (or use a credit card) to pay for their parking at a centralized electronic device. The device ejects a receipt which the parker is required to place on the dashboard to indicate the hours paid for and the hour and minute the parking expires.

Parking Tickets. Localities make money by giving tickets to illegally parked cars. They may even tow your car away if it is not properly parked. Some localities immobilize the car with a wheel lock. Others place huge stickers on the windows.

Regulations and Rules. It is not easy to understand parking regulations. Every city, town and village has different rules and regulations. Streets should have signs hanging on poles which indicate exactly when cars may park on them, but they won't always. Streets with parking meters may have time limits during which the car may be parked, even if you continue to “feed” the meter. Police and parking department employees may actually make chalk marks on your car's tires so they can later determine if you have been parked for too long.

Overnight Parking. Many communities have regulations that prohibit the parking of cars on the streets overnight. In many cases, the only warning you have of these regulations are small signs at the borders of the communities. Be careful of this.

Handicapped parking spaces allow people who have difficulty getting around to park close to stores and other public areas. These people have special license plates. Police will give tickets to anyone else parking in the spaces. The spaces usually have the figure of a person in a wheelchair painted on them, or they will be indicated by a special blue sign with a wheelchair symbol.

Vandalism and Theft. When you park your car, you will also have to be careful about vandalism and theft. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to break your car's window and steal the radio or other valuables. Car trunks are not secure against someone willing to break the lock. Try to park you car in a well lit area with plenty of pedestrian traffic. This is also a good tactic to make it safer for you personally when you enter and leave your car. Many people in America use special steering wheel locks to protect their cars from theft.


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