Can Bad Parking Regulations Promote Drunk Driving? Some Iowa Students Says They Can.

parking-rules-prevent-drunk-drivingA certain stretch of parking in Campustown, the Iowa State University student residential district, is causing people to drive drunk. At least, that’s one way to look at it.

Those who park during the wee hours on Welch Avenue in Ames, Iowa must move their cars between 3 and 6 in the morning. That means if drivers have drunk too much to drive, they’ll be ticketed for leaving their cars overnight.

Dan Breithbarth, the ISU Student Body President, says that having restricted parking so close to the area’s bars makes it more likely that people will decide to drive drunk to avoid a ticket.

Bad parking rules, therefore, promote drunk driving.

The city is so far not buying the argument. A councilman noted that the parking regulations are there to keep people from parking too long, following complaints lodged by local business owners.

Does the ISU Student Body President have a case? Certainly some communities are talking about easing parking rules to remove the incentive for people to drive after a night of imbibing. An alderman in Green Bay, Wisconsin made the same case. In Frederickton, a city in New Brunswick, Canada, the private sector is involved. A company that manages parking spots is allowing customers to leave their cars and pick them up in the morning without a penalty.

So is loosening up parking rules a legitimate request? Or should drivers just know better than to park and drink?

We’re inclined to side with the students on this. When people drink, their judgment gradually leaves them. A parking fine might seem worth risking a drive home under the influence. That’s not an excuse – it’s just the nature of drinking. And city regulations should start by admitting how people are – flawed, and prone to making poor decisions.

Especially when alcohol is involved.