In busy San Francisco, city officials estimate that drivers looking for a parking spot account for 30% of all downtown congestion. Enter the iPhone: A new app could solve the parking problem. The city introduced SFpark last month, aiming to show drivers the areas that have open spots. Wireless sensors in thousands of metered parking spots and spaces in city garages detect within seconds when a spot opens up, then make that information available on the app within a minute, the New York Times reports.
But city officials are aware that there are safety concerns, especially since, as one professor warns, “most people are looking for parking spaces in places that have a lot of traffic and a lot of pedestrians.” Officials urge drivers to pull over before using the app, but in a country where texting while driving has become the norm—and where open spots fill up fast—some worry that drivers won’t heed the warning. But one transportation exec thinks the app will still make the streets safer, because it gets frustrated, circling drivers “off the streets as quickly as possible.”