Along with getting pulled over for speeding, every driver dreads coming back to his or her parked car to find a ticket under the wiper. Even worse is finding your car tied to the ball-and-chain that is the wheel clamp. Police in major cities across the U.S. are now trying out a less incapacitating but still humiliating gadget to keep law-bending drivers from taking off. With the introduction of the yellow monstrosity known as the “Barnacle,” the parking boot may soon become a thing of the past.
The Barnacle looks like a massive telephone book, and is large enough to cover the driver’s side view when attached to a car’s windshield, reports Fox News. The device holds on to the windshield with two suction cups and 750 pounds of force, and is practically impossible to see around, even with one’s head stuck out the window. To increase the likelihood that drivers will stick around to deal with the situation, the Barnacle is also sensitive to movement and will sound an embarrassing alarm if the car starts moving while it’s still attached.
While this seems like a pretty harsh punishment for not paying your tickets on time, the good news is that the Barnacle is much easier and faster to remove than the traditional parking boot. To remove it, drivers can call a toll-free number and pay their outstanding tickets over the phone. As soon as the payment goes through, the driver is provided with a code that will unlock the Barnacle. The device easily folds and fits in the trunk of a car, and drivers are given 24 hours in which to return the device at a drop-off location.
A video by Barnacle Parking Enforcement shows the traffic warden’s newest toy in action:
As… unattractive… as this new parking enforcement technology appears, supporters comparing it to the traditional parking boot praise the Barnacle for its convenience, efficiency, and light but tough design. Even more importantly, the Barnacle increases safety for drivers, and improves parking officers’ working environment. Unlike parking boots, which can weigh up to 45 pounds, the Barnacle weighs just 20 pounds and can be attached from the sidewalk instead of forcing officers to crouch down in potentially dangerous traffic. But at $600 a pop, the new gadget still has to prove it’s worth the money in the long run.
So far, the device is undergoing trial runs in Pennsylvania and Florida, and residents who’ve been barnacled have responded with less anger and more curiosity than expected, reports Fox News. Parking enforcement officials are still waiting to see how well the Barnacle works in the winter, when car windshields will be covered in snow and ice. However, if the trials are successful and the Barnacle is deemed cost effective and easier to use than the parking boot, you may be seeing these sea creature-textbook hybrids in other major cities around the U.S. soon enough.