Private parking lot operators are at odds with the Department of Transport over access to information they say would avoid confrontations with angry motorists.
The Irish Parking Association (IPA) wants to allow the use of the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) so that it can fine motorists who overstay their reception at hospitals, shopping centres, housing developments and other private car parks.
It says that in many cases, pinning is too harsh a punishment and leads to angry confrontations, but operators can’t pursue fines because without the NVDF, they have no way of identifying a car’s owner.
When denying access, the department invokes data protection and data protection aspects.
“Access to private data must be carefully regulated. It is not being made available to private companies on the basis that it would facilitate their operations,” it said.
However, Keith Gavin, chairman of the IPA, said private toll operators would be allowed access to it.
“We are not seeking preferential treatment – there is a precedent here,” he said.
The NVDF is a database containing information on 2.5 million registered vehicles and
2.6 million licensed drivers.
It is used for vehicle tax administration and the imposition of penalties by Gardaí and other authorities with law enforcement powers.
Insurers can also access it to check whether drivers seeking insurance have penalty points.
“This provision is included in the law to increase the deterrent effect of penalty points on unsafe driving behavior as it helps ensure safer drivers have lower insurance costs while more dangerous drivers face higher costs,” the department said.
“In other words, there is solid justification for the existence of this provision in the law.”
However, Mr Gavin said there were good public interest reasons to allow access to IPA members as well.
“It is a very onerous punishment to be pinned down. You’re robbed of your mobility because you have to wait to get exhausted, and it’s expensive because you have two employees, two truck trips, and backroom administration costs.
“It’s a very useful tool, but it’s not suitable for all environments. It could be a fairly minor infraction, but you’re going to take someone’s car away for a period of time and ask them to pay maybe €120 to get it back.
“Parking is a very emotional thing and there are a lot of issues with clamp removal and angry motorists.
“People are understandably upset about this and it can lead to a confrontation that is in no one’s interest.”
Mr Gavin said penalties could be halved if fines could be imposed.
A collection agency would have to be called in if people don’t pay, but he said the experience in other European countries where this is the norm is that 60-70 percent of people pay on the first reminder.
Members of the IPA include large multi-site car park operators such as Q-Park, Parkrite, NCPS and ACPOA, as well as individual car parks, several county councils and the Dublin Airport Authority.
Mr Gavin said the IPA had asked successive transport ministers the request for 15 years but was hoping for an agreement after meeting Eamon Ryan last year.
The department disagreed with this notion, saying: “From a public interest perspective, there is no justification for sensitive personal data held by the state to be shared with car park operators.
“Data provided to the state by private individuals must be treated with the utmost care and the Minister has made his position clear on this.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/car-park-operators-pushing-to-get-access-to-private-data-of-motorists-41493160.html Parking lot operators are pushing for access to private data from drivers