Jan. 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM ET
Driving in San Francisco is nutty; trying to park there, even worse: Narrow streets. Hills galore. And a desperate shortage of spaces. Plus, drivers who are in a Manhattan frame of mind, despite being in California. A new text-messaging program aims to let drivers (parked ones) help others who have gotten into parking binds, whether they've left their lights on or forgotten to curb their wheels by notifying them via phone.
It's called CurbTXT, and it plays to our better nature, the good Samaritan in many of us, who see such problems in the parking universe but have no way to contact the car owner. Leaving a note about lights left on doesn't do much if the car's battery goes dead by the time the driver returns to the vehicle.
CurbTXT, billed as "helping neighbors avoid the pitfalls of parking in San Francisco," is free and pretty much still in its infancy. It works somewhat simply: You save CurbTXT's phone number in your phone. When you see a parking malfunction, you text the license plate number on the car, starting with the state abbreviation.
"For example: “CA3214567 you’re blocking my driveway — pls move," and then hit "send," is the example given. Of course, CA3214567 has to be registered with CurbTXT; if the owner isn't, CurbTXT texts you back that the message wasn't received.
There's a second part to all this — getting a CurbTXT sticker to place near a rear license plate for easy ID among CurbTXT users.
Andrew Sotzing, CurbTXT co-founder, told NBC News that while he "can't disclose specific usage figures, I can say that we're growing very quickly and hoping to expand into other major markets in the coming months."
CurbTXT has recently received "a flood of interest from folks as far away as Germany and Australia offering to help bring CurbTXT to their region — which is really exciting for us," Sotzing said.
And so far, users have been friendly and civil to one anotoher.
"While most of the CurbTXT's people send fall under the utility category, 'Hey. You left your lights on!' or 'You're about to get a street cleaning ticket!', we always get a kick out of the occasional neighbor-to-neighbor car compliment, most recently: 'Nice ride :-)' " he said.
This story was updated at 4:44 p.m. ET.