What Happens When You Don’t Enforce Parking

The Parking Butterfly Effect—The Problems, Statistics, and Solutions

Parking impacts everyone in a community. From convenient commuting to safety for motorists and pedestrians alike, having a consistent and efficient parking enforcement strategy is crucial. 

But what happens when parking enforcement isn’t enforced effectively?  

You may have heard of “The Butterfly Effect”—the concept that small, seemingly insignificant actions can lead to significant and unintentional consequences. 

Let’s apply this concept to parking. The ripple effect triggered by unobserved (and unpunished) parking violations is so much more than just inconsiderate parking jobs. It causes traffic congestion, unnecessary stress, property damage, and unsafe environments for drivers and pedestrians. It’s time to discuss the often overlooked “butterfly effects” of poor parking enforcement. 

Here’s what’s on the agenda: 

  • What happens when you don’t deal with your parking problems 
  • How to avoid the Parking Butterfly Effect 
  • The Answer to Your Parking Enforcement Prayers 

5 Problems That Can Occur When Parking Rules are Not Enforced 

Whether it’s managing curbside parking or massive parking structures, poorly enforced parking guidelines can cause frustration, traffic problems, and accidents. Let’s explore a few possible scenarios that arise from the failure to enforce parking violations effectively. 

Number 1: Parking Lot Chaos 

Finding parking is a stressful and annoying experience—especially in densely populated areas. When parking guidelines go unenforced, motorists of all types will try to squeeze in wherever and however they can. And why wouldn’t they if there aren’t any consequences? 

This can lead to bad parkers blocking entries and exits, occupying reserved spaces, and even obstructing sidewalks or crosswalks. All of which can contribute to frustration and potential conflict between motorists.  

Number 2: Traffic build-up/blockage 

Not enforcing parking rules can have significant and detrimental consequences on traffic flow and overall urban mobility. When vehicles are illegally parked on streets, they occupy valuable road space that should be used for moving traffic. This can cause bottlenecks that result in longer commute times. 

Number 3: Revenue Loss 

Businesses that rely on customer parking can suffer when parking rules are not enforced. When non-customers occupy parking spaces for extended periods, it can discourage potential customers from visiting local businesses, leading to lost sales and a decrease in the overall economic vitality of an area. 

Number 4: Reduced Accessibility 

Some of the people most negatively impacted by the lack of enforced parking regulations are those who need accessible parking spaces. Suppose there’s no consequence for drivers who illegally park in accessibility-specified spots. In that case, those who do need them are encumbered and have their health and safety put at risk.  

According to a 2018 KSLA News 12 report, 74% of survey participants say they’ve witnessed non-disabled individuals park in spots designated for those with disabilities.   

Number 5: Limited Access for Emergency Vehicles 

Improperly parked vehicles can create safety hazards. Blocking fire hydrants or emergency exits can impede the response of emergency services, potentially jeopardizing lives in the event of a fire or other emergencies. 

How to Avoid the Parking Butterfly Effect 

Now that we’ve discussed the problems associated with a lack of parking enforcement, let’s address some measures to take to avoid them. 

Devise a solid parking enforcement strategy 

Creating a plan is a great first step to solving any problem, and parking enforcement is no exception. It doesn’t need to be complex (it’s actually better if it isn’t). Start by addressing a few key components: 

  • What are your primary parking challenges? 
  • Ensure your regulations and guidelines are clearly outlined and visible to motorists. 
  • Decide who will consistently enforce the parking rules. 
  • Determine how parking violations will be addressed.  

Implement user-friendly parking enforcement tools 

Traditional parking enforcement usually comes in the form of tickets, boots, and tow trucks. Not only is this incredibly frustrating—and potentially financially devastating for drivers—but it can also cause traffic congestion and a strain on those tasked with enforcing your parking regulations. However, modern parking enforcement systems can be a convenient and cost-effective solution for both your organization and motorists. 

One example of a modern parking enforcement solution is, well… us (surprise!). The Barnacle® is a versatile and sustainable parking enforcement device that is incredibly lightweight—but attaches to a windshield with 1000 pounds of force! Conveniently for the parking enforcer, and all the motorists, the latter can pay their fines online, and remove The Barnacle themselves! Drivers can then return The Barnacle to the nearest Drop Box, and parking enforcers can remotely monitor all statuses and locations of actively deployed Barnacle’s. 


  • The bright yellow device is highly visible to other motorists, making them think twice before breaking the parking rules. 
  • It is practically impossible to remove forcefully (and blocks the windshield so motorists can’t drive away). 
  • It makes it quick and convenient for motorists to pay their fines and be on their way. 


  • Ensuring your parking area can support one or more Barnacle Drop Boxes. 
  • You may need to hire a parking enforcer (if you don’t already have one) to patrol parking areas and deploy The Barnacle.

Post signage that informs parking regulations 

No matter how you decide to solve your parking compliance issues, ensure all motorists have the information they need to avoid violations.  

Post clear and easy-to-read signs stating:

  • Parking rules and expected codes of conduct. 
  • The consequences of not following your parking policies. 
  • Safety warnings for both motorists and pedestrians. 
  • Specific parking areas or spaces intended for those with physical accessibility needs. 
  • Parking lanes and spaces meant for emergency service access. 
  • Speed limits and no parking zones. 

The most important thing to remember is clarity. Avoid using complicated parking jargon or packing tons of words in an impossible-to-read font size.  

  • Use multiple signs in strategic locations.
  • Make them easy to read from a distance.
  • Keep guidelines simple.

You don’t want to contribute to an accident caused by distracted driving because motorists are trying to decipher overly complicated parking signs. 

Have You Found the Answer to Your Parking Enforcement Prayers? 

While the parking butterfly effect can be daunting, planning and suitable systems can create a safer and more convenient parking experience for everyone. Developing an efficient and effective enforcement strategy doesn’t have to cause stress for you or your community of drivers—and the benefits are more than worth it: 

  • They increase safety for motorists and pedestrians. 
  • Lower stress for drivers. 
  • Reduce traffic congestion because ethically enforced parking means fewer obstructions and increased flow. 
  • Improve patron/resident/visitor satisfaction. 

In the end, it’s best to stay consistent in your parking enforcement efforts rather than allowing parking violations to create chaos. 

Start solving your parking problems today.

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