A parking meter is a device that allows users to pay money in exchange for the right to park their vehicle for a limited period of time. The spaces are normally located on a public road (where parking is possible). It should not be confused with a parking ticket machine, although the two operate on the same principle. Parking meters are gradually disappearing from the urban landscape and are being rightly replaced with parking ticket machines, which are capable of managing a larger number of parking spaces. Parking meters, meanwhile, only manage one or two spaces.
The parking meter is (or was) one of the ways in which local authorities collect(ed) payment for parking in urban areas. They were originally introduced to manage paid parking spaces.
The principle behind them is extremely simple. Once the user has found a space to park his/her vehicle, he/she simply decides how long to park and pays the corresponding amount at the machine. The parking meter takes the driver's money and issues a parking ticket, indicating the date and time at which the parking period starts and the maximum time that the user may park. The user must then place the ticket in clearly visible location inside the windscreen. Where the user fails to make payment or leaves his/her vehicle in the space for longer than authorised, he/she has committed an offence and may be issued with a fine, or even have his/her vehicle removed.