In 1995, Swatch and Mercedes Benz joined forces to produce the Smart Car for Europeans. Smart Cars are sporty, compact, fuel-efficient vehicles that usually seat two people. The Smart Car debuted in America in 2007. Because Smart Cars are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States, laws can still be a bit inconsistent and confusing depending upon the region of the country in which you live.
Because parallel parking is a standard way of parking average-sized vehicles, especially in cities, expect the same parallel parking standards to apply to Smart Cars. Some states, such as California require cars to have their tires within a certain number of inches to the curb. Although compact cars like Smart Cars can be parked farther from the curb without obstructing traffic, it's best to make sure your smart car is parked as close to the curb as possible to avoid a potential ticket.
In Europe, laws for Smart Cars are far and few between. According to the San Francisco Gate, in Europe, "where more than 800,000 of the little cars have sold in the past decade, drivers often park perpendicularly--with their noses or tails to the curb--between parallel-parked larger cars." Laws specific to parking mini cars perpendicular in the United States vary between states, or are non-existent. However, most states apply general parking laws to all cars. This simply means that just as average-sized cars can be ticketed for parking perpendicularly in U.S cities, so too can Smart Cars be ticketed for parking perpendicularly.
While many cities have not set laws specific to parking mini cars, officials from some cities are standing by current parking laws no matter what size vehicle is involved.
For example, vehicles are not permitted to share a parking space on San Francisco, California streets. The SFGate quotes San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency saying "They can park two to a marked space as long as they both fit within the lines and allow room for each other to manoeuvre." However in metered spaces, fines must be paid by someone or both cars could be ticketed.
But you won't get away with parking two per spot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania due to the city's vehicle parking laws. David Onorato, the director of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority was quoted by Pittsburgh Live saying "Vehicles on city streets and in authority garages and lots are required to park one to a space, regardless of how fuel-efficient, cute or European they are."
While able to reach a maximum speed of 90mph, Smart Cars are required to follow the same speed limits as all other cars in order to avoid tickets and maintain safety. This compact car can be used on both city streets, highways and other commonly travelled roadways. Smart Cars have passed highway safety tests by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
- Pittsburgh Live: Parking rules for Smart Cars stupid
- SFGate: Tiny cars may force cities to rethink parking
- Unlikely Words: Smart Cars Parked Sideways on Newberry Street
- Autobloggreen: smart may force cities to reconsider parking laws
- America Smart Car Guide: History of a Smart Car
- Smart USA: Smart fortwo