Finding accessible parking, and even understanding parking rules, can be tricky in many urban areas, businesses, and universities. Illegal parking takes up space intended for other things. Receiving parking tickets is frustrating for drivers. And enforcing parking laws takes up time and money from law enforcement.

Surely we can do better, and a team of researchers led by Michael Clayton at Missouri State University have done exactly that.

In their study, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, the team sought to find ways to make parking citations more effective at actually reducing the rate of illegal parking.

Before the study, the team found that the most common reason given for parking violations at the university related to a confusing parking lot with signs that weren’t clearly marked. With that information in hand, the team set up a study across four semesters in which they paired parking violations with feedback and a prompt.

The feedback let drivers know why where they parked was illegal, and the prompt let drivers know where they should park in the future, along with a “we care” statement.

Across semesters, the baseline conditions (citations only) found illegal parking to be between 13.1-17.3%. The treatment conditions (citations + feedback and prompts) reduced illegal parking to 3.8-6.1% across semesters.

Sometimes little things can have lasting effects…to read more about the study, including is limitations, be sure to check out the full article here, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Happy parking.