Should it be illegal to park facing the wrong way?

Jeff writes:

Economic theory suggests that penalties should be attached to behaviors that are correlated with crime and not necessarily to criminal behavior itself.  For example, price fixing may be impossible to detect, but conspiracy to fix prices may be much easier.  It makes sense to make cheap talk a crime even though the talk itself causes no harm.

When you car is parked facing the wrong way its a sure sign that A) you previously committed the crime of driving the wrong way and B) you will soon do it again.

Is this another of his elaborate jests?  The web suggests that Texas has begun to enforce this law only recently, to shore up Medicaid, but the resulting policy uncertainty adds to our current output gap.  It also violates Keynesian strictures not to raise taxes during a recession.  Up until now, of course, there has been strong net mobility into the state of Texas, so was the previous lack of enforcement so bad?

The practice of parking the wrong [sic] way is at least as safe as turning across lanes of oncoming traffic.

One fear is that traffic will slam into your parked car if your rear reflectors are not facing the proper way.  Yet if everyone parks facing the wrong way, does not this risk diminish and indeed a benefit can be seen?  And is not a car, if parked for long enough, infinitely dangerous in any case?  And are not wrong way parkers the most likely to hurry in and out of a spot quickly, thereby lowering stationary collision probabilities?  Or is the argument that a parked car safer is in any case safer than a moving car, and that wrong way parking allows more cars to park more readily, thereby lowering the average velocity of automobiles?  In any case, the Peltzmann effect suggests that wrong way parking, and the concomitant dangers, will discourage drunk driving, thereby saving lives.  Furthermore the relevant alternative to “wrong way parking” is usually an extremely reckless, immediate, illegal U-turn.

I once “parked the wrong way” in Falls Church City.  The policeman told me he could not give me a ticket, since he had not seen me do it, but that there was no way I could leave the space legally.  (I so enjoy a dare.)  Here in Virginia, or at least in Falls Church City, the rule of law reigns; the policeman recognized the car might have been there forever, or might have been parked by a computer (that’s illegal too, but let him try to prove the computer did it), or might have materialized there through quantum effects.  A game of waiting ensued.


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