New Parking Meter Sensors Enforce Time Limits

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

New Parking Meter Sensors Enforce Time Limits

Posted: 12/05/2016
Parking MeterOver the next few weeks, parking patrons will notice a few changes with the City’s new parking meters recently installed downtown and in surrounding areas. The City will be activating new features that will continue to promote steady turnover for short-term parking spaces which in turn creates easier access to on-street parking and area businesses.  

More than 900 new meters have been installed since August, replacing many unreliable older meters and providing convenience with credit card capability. Each meter was equipped with a vehicle detection sensor to monitor the adjacent parking space, which is a key element in providing real-time data to the City’s parking systems team. This valuable feature is now being fully activated.  

The sensors are set to the time limits established for each parking space – generally two hours in heavily trafficked areas. That means they will not accept payment for more than the designated time.

When a vehicle enters a parking meter space, it triggers the sensor, which then gives the patron a small grace period allowing time for parking, unloading and paying the meter. The meter automatically begins counting down the maximum time limit for that meter after the grace period ends. The meter will not accept payment for longer than the designated time limit.

After the meter has expired, the occupant will also have a small grace period to vacate the space before a violation is reported. The meter will not reset until it senses that the vehicle has left the space. The purpose of this restriction is to ensure steady turnover in short-term parking spaces and encourage long-term parkers to utilize City garages and lots. 

Here are two examples of how this works:

• A vehicle parks at 8 p.m. at a two-hour time limit meter and it states “Free Parking” on the meter screen, because the space is free after 6 p.m. The resident or visitor takes the risk and parks there all night. The next morning at 8 a.m., when payment is required, the parker tries to pay for time on the meter. However, their credit card is not accepted and coins do not register time either. Why? Because the vehicle sensor detected that the two-hour time limit expired at 10 p.m. and the vehicle never moved. Therefore, payment is not accepted the next morning until the space has been vacated.  

• A vehicle parks at 10 a.m. at a two-hour time limit meter. At 10:05 a.m., the two-hour time limit begins but the parker decides to not pay yet. At 11:05 a.m., the person notices a parking enforcement officer approaching and decides to go ahead and pay. The occupant wants to pay for two hours, but the meter will only allow one hour maximum payment.  Why? Because the vehicle sensor began counting the two-hour time limit at 10:05 a.m. The occupant can only pay up to 12:05 p.m.

When a vehicle departs a parking space, the sensor indicates the space is now vacant and the meter resets. This will allow the next person parking to get a full two hours on the meter.

For more information about parking in Knoxville, visit