Parking laws for smart cars

parking image by Nath Photos from

The Smart brand vehicle, originally called the Micro Compact Car AG, came about in 1993 as a joint venture between Swatch and Daimler-Benz. This partnership between a watchmaker and a car manufacturer resulted in a line of tiny cars built for a European urban environment. Sales of the car began in 1998.

It quickly became popular because of its parking ease and fuel economy. As gas prices rose, Smart eventually introduced its Fortwo style in the United States. But American cities have had a hard time deciding how to enforce parking laws for the 92-inch car and exactly which laws to enforce.

Parking Perpendicular to the Curb

While it is possible to park a Smart car perpendicular to the curb, it's not always legal. When a Smart car parks this way, its rear sticks out about 10 inches more than the width of an average car parked parallel to the curb. In Europe, parking laws around Smart cars are lax. But many U.S. cities, such as Raleigh, North Carolina, ticket drivers for parking this way.

Parallel Parking

California state law requires cars to park with their right tires within 18 inches of a curb, assuming they're parking on a two-way street. This law, obviously, also rules out perpendicular parking.

Parking on Sidewalks

In Paris and London, drivers are allowed to park Smart cars on sidewalks, as long as they don't block pedestrians. Don't try this in the United Stares. If you do, you'll likely be ticketed or towed.

Sharing a Parking Space

The laws of many cities stipulate that only one car may park in a single space. But two Smart cars can fit in one space. Drivers in Canada, Europe and the UK commonly park Smart cars two to a space. But in cities like Pittsburgh, expect to be ticketed. The main reason for this is that city officials want every driver to pay a meter. In San Francisco, Smart cars can share a space as long as they both fit inside the lines and the meter is paid. If the meter expires, both cars can expect a ticket. This is the same law used for motorcycles.