London - Sensors alerting motorists to empty parking spaces are being installed in British streets for the first time.

The small sensors, embedded in the asphalt of each parking bay, can tell whether a car is present, absent or has over-stayed its allotted time.

The data will be collected centrally and sent via smartphone or tablet apps to drivers, who will be able to pay for the space via their mobile.

There are also plans for the alerts to be sent to parking wardens.

The system is in use in San Francisco but the British trial is believed to be the first in Europe. It is being piloted in central London by Westminster Council on 135 bays over four streets.

The council, which charges up to £4.40 (about R50) an hour for on-street parking, said: “It will reduce congestion and minimise the need for motorists to endlessly trawl the streets searching for somewhere to park.” - Daily Mail