In response to our recent article, The Escalating Abuse of Disabled Parking, we were asked a very good question about what to do if you see someone abusing handicapped parking. Thank you to Valerie Smith for asking this excellent question.
Here’s what Valerie asked us:
“My daughter was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis at 7 months old, and as a result, has neurological disabilities. She is now 29 years old, and after 2 tendon release procedures is able to teach 8th grade English! My question is, when I see someone who is obviously NOT DISABLED exit a vehicle parked in a handicapped parking spot, what can I say to them? I usually whisper under my breath, ‘obviously you’re not handicapped’. Should I just let it go?“
Here’s our advice:
First and foremost, we DO NOT advise you to confront someone who you suspect has illegally parked in a handicapped parking spot. This person is potentially breaking the law, and their reaction to your confrontation could put you in danger.
If you see someone parking in a handicapped parking space that you suspect is doing so illegally, here are some safe steps you can take.
- Call the local police (non-emergency number)
- Call your local Department of Motor Vehicles
- Submit a disabled parking complaint on HandicappedFraud.org
- Report the incident with the free Parking Mobility app
The above steps are all reactive actions (once someone has already abused accessible parking), but what can you do to help prevent this from happening in the future?
Here’s our suggestions:
- Meet with your local police department to discuss how this issue affects you and why/how you need them to take action.
- Advocate for education/sensitivity training for medical professionals, so they understand the importance of issuing handicap placards to their patients only when absolutely necessary.
- Write to your local and state government representatives about updating current disabled parking laws; increasing the penalties for breaking those laws for both drivers and the medical professionals abusing their discretion.
The abuse of disabled parking is a hot button issue for the wheelchair user community, as well as PUSHLiving.