Regulation of clamping cowboys good news for motorists
The AA is cautiously welcoming today’s announcement from the Government to rein in wheel clampers by regulating a maximum clamping penalty of $100, but believes more needs to be done to regulate the industry.
The AA has been calling for years for the private parking sector to be regulated, including banning the practice of wheel clamping.
“The AA has described wheel clamping as the wild west, where operators clamp first and ask questions later and motorists are forced to pay huge amounts to get use of their car back,” AA Principal Advisor – Regulations Mark Stockdale says.
“Having no regulations for wheel clamping has allowed anyone to set themselves up in the clamping business and charge any penalties they like, on any private property, any time.”
“Wheel clamping is one of the most common complaints the AA receives around car parking. Motorists are angry about the size of the penalty, often over $200, and upset that they cannot challenge it.”
An AA survey of members showed 86% saw clamping as too harsh a penalty for someone who has overstayed in a carpark, while 66% thought clamping was too harsh for someone who has used a private carpark they are not allowed to use.
Often people complain they were clamped because there were no clear or visible signs explaining the rules of the carpark – a common failing of private carparks – or that they were clamped despite complying with the rules.
The AA was previously involved in the development of a voluntary Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land, which prioritises issuing breach notices, and discourages the use of wheel clamping. The major parking companies which are signatories to the Code do not use wheel clamps for enforcement.
“While the AA would prefer wheel clamping to be banned, like it is in the UK, this is a good first step and will help reduce the worst excesses of wheel clamping. However, $100 is still disproportionate for the offence and it still doesn’t solve the problem of denying motorists the opportunity to dispute a wheel clamp penalty without paying on the spot. The AA also believes wheel clampers should be regulated, the same way tow truck operators are.”