Several McDonald's drive-in restaurants are warning customers to eat up in 45 minutes or risk a parking fine. Some supermarkets and department stores, including British retail giant Tesco, are warning shoppers they, too, can be fined if they overstay their welcome in parking lots.
To prevent motorists from turning lots into all-day parking spots, more restaurants, shopping centers and even hospitals have turned management of their lots over to private companies that use cameras to clock how long cars are parked. The companies are allowed to impose fines up to $200 or more on motorists who park too long.
The practice is the latest twist in the scramble for space in a car-jammed nation, where the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says there are 29.3 million registered cars, one for about every two, vying for space in an area smaller than the state of Oregon.