HDB to crack down on carpark fee evaders

This article is more than 12 months old

130 drivers caught during six-month trial of new tailgating detection system

The Housing Board is turning to technology to catch motorists who try to evade parking charges by tailgating.

It will be installing a system with sensors and cameras in HDB carparks to record motorists who pass the gantries without paying.

The Tailgating Detection System (TDS) will be introduced in the second half of next year. A six-month trial this year nabbed the drivers of 130 vehicles.

Currently, these evaders are caught via a manual process, in which employees scan closed-circuit television footage and check a vehicle's payment record against the footage.

In the new system, a network of sensors sited at the exits of Electronic Parking System (EPS) carparks will measure the distance between vehicles as they approach the carpark gantries.

When tailgating is detected, the system's cameras instantly record the incident, capturing the offending vehicle's details and date and time of the incident.

In short, the TDS uses video analytics to identify tailgating vehicles in real time, the HDB said in a statement yesterday.

The system can also detect errant motorcyclists.

The technology was piloted by the HDB in May at two carparks: one at a surface-level facility and the other at a multi-storey building.

During the six-month trial, the 130 vehicles had either tailgated at or bypassed the gantries.

Some recalcitrants were taken to court. One such driver, charged in March this year, did not pay for parking on six occasions at a carpark in Bukit Batok East Avenue 3. The amount totalled $11.56.

He pleaded guilty to tailgating another vehicle between August and October last year and was fined a total of $4,200.

He is one of seven such cases the HDB took to court this year.

But the number of parking offence notices it issued for intentionally tailgating and bypassing EPS gantries exceeded 6,000 as of Nov 15.

The penalties are $25 for motorcycles, $50 for cars and $80 for heavy vehicles.

The HDB said: "Compared (with) the manual process, which can take several hours, the process of identifying such errant motorists using the TDS is much more effective and efficient."

Process technician Darren Ko, 49, welcomed the new automated system.

A driver had tailgated his car out of a carpark gantry at Block 355, Choa Chu Kang Central, on May 10 at 12.35pm.

He reported it on citizen journalism website Stomp.

Recounting the incident to The Straits Times, he said: "It felt very dangerous.

"If he did not manage to brake in time, he would have definitely hit my car."

Mr Ko also felt angry.

He said: "How much could the parking charge have been? It made no sense because, should he get caught or hit my car, the charges would be much higher than the parking fee.

"It is good to prevent accidents from happening because of such incidents."