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Traffic agency chases up foreign drivers' unpaid parking fines

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Traffic agency chases up foreign drivers' unpaid parking fines
16:27 CET+01:00
Drivers of foreign-registered cars in Sweden may want to start paying more attention to the country's parking rules.

The Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) has considering employing a British company on a permanent basis to help collect unpaid parking fines issued to cars registered in other countries, reports the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Every year, nearly 50,000 foreign cars receive parking tickets in Sweden, but poor coordination among counterpart agencies across the European Union (EU) means that most drivers ticketed in Sweden never end up paying the fine.

In 2007, only 10 percent of the owners of cars not registered in Sweden paid their Swedish parking fines, in part because no regulations exist governing the exchange of information regarding parking infractions leaving Swedish authorities with no way to compel them to pay.

The lack of cooperation especially bothers Jan Prestberg of Stockholm's road works office.

“I'm a little annoyed that the EU can decide on the size of strawberries, but can't find agreement on matters like this,” he told SvD.

Starting in 2004, the city of Stockholm took matters in its own hands when it contracted with UK-based Euro Parking Collection (EPC) to help the city collect fines from owners of foreign registered cars.

This spring, Vägverket decided to carry out a trial with EPC to help the agency collect on the nearly 6,000 parking tickets issued to non-Swedish cars in April and May.

According to Vägverket statistics, of foreign-registered cars ticketed during the two month trial period, cars registered in Poland received the most tickets, followed by cars from Germany, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

EPC was able to identify and send out payment reminders to about half of the vehicle owners of foreign cars ticketed in Sweden. Close to 1,200 tickets were paid, while about 1,200 more investigations were dropped for other reasons.

All told, EPC's efforts resulted in a doubling in the number of parking tickets paid by owners of cars registered outside of Sweden from 9.7 percent to 19.9 percent.

“We're involved right now in evaluating the trial and will come to a decision about whether or not the partnership will be made permanent,” said Vägverket's Niklas Sjölén.

The evaluation is expected to be completed in early November at which point the agency will make a decision about continuing to work with EPC.

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