It's the difference between a no-nonsense, gun-toting California Highway patrolman and our own unarmed, considered and popular top traffic cop Tauranga Police's Senior Sergeant Ian Campion.
The same traffic offence but different country and different attitude.
Nothing gives CHiPs cop Monty Hight more pleasure than handing out a ticket for violation of 22502(a) of the California Vehicle Code – parking on the wrong side of the street.
“Nothing gets my attention more – not speeding vehicles, not reckless drivers, not fleeing felons.”
He says it's utterly unforgiveable that a lazy driver elects to drive on the wrong side of the road and park so they can step onto the footpath and not have to walk around their car to get where they are going.
He doesn't just want the practice to stop, he wants rid of the perpetrators altogether. He stops short of suggesting a return to the convict ships but he tells the perps to “go to England where it's legal”.
Ian Campion is much more conciliatory. He's more of an ‘educate them' type, ‘appeal to their better senses' type, rather than the punitive type.
“It's important to reaffirm with people that they are required to park on the left-hand side of the roadway," says our more reasoned Senior Sergeant.
Parking on the right side, which is also the wrong side, is definitely not to be encouraged.
But if necessary, motorists observed transgressing will get ‘pinged'. A fine of $40 thank you.
Patrolman Monty Hight is hardline. “I am certain those not in compliance with the laws have their reasons. But understand that in the morning when you find a citation on your windscreen, the officer also has his reasons.”
And those reasons are the same on either side of the Pacific Ocean.
To get to that illegal park on the wrong side of the road a motorist has to drive across the path of oncoming traffic. “And whenever you do that there are obvious risks,” says Ian. “It's an offence and yes, we would deal with it.”
Anecdotal evidence would suggest the offence is epidemic around Tauranga. That's not our policeman's experience.
“We see it from time to time and it's generally people who would prefer not to walk across the road,” says the Senior Sergeant. In other words the “unforgiveable lazy drivers” CHiPs patrolman Monty Hight so vehemently detests.
“I also wonder how many of the offenders are confused tourists or are new New Zealanders from the many countries where you can legally park on the opposite side of the road?” says Ian.
It's incidental that a seasoned The Weekend Sun staffer – he requested anonymity to save incrimination and embarrassment – got his first ever traffic violation for parking his faded red 1965 Morris 1100 on the wrong side of the road in Wellington's Island Bay. That was half a century ago, suggesting motorists haven't learned.
He had a good excuse, which got the citation ripped up. The 1100 was his first car and because he wasn't sure it would start he parked it headed downhill for a jump start.
Seems in Australia, in all state and all territories, you are also required to park in the same direction as moving traffic. Something about obstruction of your rear reflector lights at night causing unnecessary confusion for other drivers.
There is also an economic theory that penalties should be attached to behaviours that are correlated with crime and not necessarily to the criminal behavior itself.
So when you park facing the wrong way there's irrefutable evidence you committed the crime of driving on the wrong side of the road and you are about to do it again. Two more serious offences. But you only get charged with illegal parking.
Perhaps we are overanalysing. As the senior sergeant suggests – park with your left-hand wheels as close as practicable to the left-hand curb.