Several cities including Buffalo, N.Y. and Grand Rapids, Mich., as well as some college campuses, are turning to in-car parking meters so that motorists no longer have to fumble for change, according to the USA Today
.Already popular in Europe, the device allows motorists to buy or pay a refundable deposit on the units, which are about the size of a pocket calculator. After parking, the user turns on the unit and inserts a card loaded with prepaid parking time. The units are programmed to know the cost and maximum time allowed in a given parking zone. Once activated, the unit ticks away the minutes until it's turned off.Buffalo, which began offering the program primarily to disabled drivers in 2003, has recently launched a marketing campaign to increase awareness of the benefits of using an in-car meter.Beyond providing convenience to drivers, the in-car units cut the costs of maintenance and repairing vandalism to street meters and reduce the number of workers collecting coins, according to the report. They also help boost parking revenue since cities lose money when drivers don't pay or avoid paid street parking completely.