Fort Lauderdale's parking scofflaws beware; the city has found a strange new way to strong-arm drivers to pay outstanding parking fines. The Barnacle uses two commercial-grade suction cups to latch onto windshields with 750 pounds of force. This peculiar, bright-yellow contraption is allegedly more efficient for parking enforcement officers and drivers than the despised metal boot on a car's tire.
"As with much of new technology, people are genuinely very curious about the Barnacle," Fort Lauderdale spokesperson Monique Damiano tells New Times. "The Barnacle is serving as an additional tool to assist our Parking Enforcement Specialists with performing their jobs."
Fort Lauderdale is one of the first cities to start using the Barnacle. The city began a 60-day trial on September 23 and has deployed the device approximately 15 times. So far it has been praised for being quicker and easier to install than the boot.
In May, the City's parking services manager, Frank Castro, learned about the Barnacle at the 2016 International Parking Institute Conference in Nashville. Castro was impressed and reached out to the company, Ideas That Stick, to ask about pilot testing. "Ironically, Ideas that Stick was also looking for companies to test the prototype, so it was a great opportunity for both," Damiano says.
Parking officers don't have to hunch over in the middle of traffic to install the boot. They can deploy the Barnacle from the safety of the sidewalk. It weighs about 20 pounds less than the boot, which makes it painless to transport. The Barnacle also folds in half for easy storage.
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To get it removed, drivers can submit credit card information and pay fines over the phone. Afterward, they return the device to a drop-off location.
There have been some concerns about drivers simply sticking their heads out of the window and driving with the Barnacle still attached. Monique Damiano says the City doesn't think that drivers will attempt that. Driving with an obstructed windshield is illegal and a costly violation if caught. And an alarm sounds if the car begins moving.
"So while driving with your head out the window may seem like a way to crack the Barnacle, in actuality, it is neither practical nor likely, given that it could lead to financial, legal, and potentially fatal results," Damiano says.