Stricter laws to curb disabled parking abuse cause nuisances for the disabled

| October 7, 2013

Accessible parking that started as a move to provide relief to those with disabilities is now extensively misused by the public. An estimated 72% of the 43 million Americans who rely on private automobiles for their transportation are affected by the problem of illegal disabled parking at one time or another. While state laws are gradually becoming stricter regarding their regulations for disabled parking due to abuse, the noose is tightening around those whom the rules were originally designed to benefit, too.

How is disabled parking misused?

There are two ways in which an able-bodied person can violate disabled parking regulations: by simply parking in a disabled spot without a placard, or by borrowing (or stealing) placards from friends, family, or relatives who are disabled.

Car parked in a disabled spot, covering access aisle

It’s bad enough that an able-bodied occupies a disabled parking spot, it is worse when a car covers the access aisle too. Image by joellevand.

Reasons for misuse of disabled parking

Disabled parking abuse is becoming rampant year after year, as a result of lax enforcement, but also an expectation that everyday transactions should be speedy, and motorists don’t feel they should have to walk to get to them. A study by the University of Wisconsin concludes that the main reason for illegal handicapped parking is “convenience.” Moreover, to lawbreakers, the benefits of disabled parking spots (ease of access, proximity, and availability) outweigh the social opprobrium or legal consequences.

Laws to curtail parking misuse pose a problem for the disabled

Due to this widespread abuse of parking spaces, people who don’t have visible disabilities but experience equal pain and suffering are taking a hit alongside the drivers who are breaking the law. First of all, motorists occasionally think that people who have disabilities that aren’t obvious are faking their disability to get a parking spot, causing enforcement problems, but also embarrassment when feel the people with such disabilities feel they have to defend themselves.

Mark Maggin, a victim of chronic disease and a columnist at a forum for the disabled, talks about how the government’s regulation to curb illegal parking is actually causing problems for the disabled. As an example, a new Illinois state law has struck from the list of people eligible for a new placard: senior citizens on walkers, people with crutches and canes, and those with chronic diseases who do not “look” handicapped, which gives them free metered parking.

Parking restrictions like these can soon become a nuisance. For those with pain, the simple task of going back to feeding the meters will be a burden. While the new rules might succeed in reducing parking abuse, for people with some disabilities, these regulations have already backfired.

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Category: Enforcement, Parking management

About the Author ()

A creative writer at heart, Lisa currently writes for SmartSign’s blogs and dabbles in content strategies for SEO. She spends the rest of the time lounging in the comforts of her home, surfing the internet for areas of interest, or traveling to unexplored destinations. Having previously studied and worked in the field of journalism and media, Lisa likes calling herself a web journalist. She takes special interest in grassroots and tribal issues, and topics concerning women empowerment. She swears that books are a person’s best travel companion, and that good food can liven up any dull day. Lisa lives in the beautiful city of Jaipur, India.
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