Handicap parking only sign in a parking garage

Handicap Parking Violations: Not a Victimless Crime

Handicap Parking Violations are Not a Victimless Crime!

Having a wheelchair accessible van is great, but what's the point of having one if you can seldom park it? Lately, we've been hearing more and more complaints about a problem that is sadly common: handicap parking violations. Whether it's people without a placard parking in handicap spot or a vehicle parked within the blue hash marks, it's both legally and morally wrong.

It's easy to point the finger at the general public. If they weren't so lazy, accessible vehicles would be able to park in the easy-access spots they're entitled to and we wouldn't have these handicap problems, right? While that may be a legitimate cause, the heart of the problem is a much bigger issue: a lack of education and awareness.

Learning About Handicap Parking

The majority of us officially learned to drive in drivers' education classes. We learned to go right on red, come to a complete stop for all stop signs, and to keep both hands on the wheel. While all these things are considered driving essentials, drivers' education classes fail to adequately educate around public handicap parking space use. We're told not to park in them without a government-issued handicap placard or handicap parking permit, and that's the last many of us hear about it. What the general public doesn't realize is how necessary protecting these handicap spaces are for individuals with physical disabilities, even if these disabilities are considered 'invisible disabilities' and may affect a person's endurance or balance. Even if you're only running into the grocery store for 10 minutes, those with accessible vans cannot park in a regular spot. There is no place to let down a ramp, and it's a bit difficult (not to mention dangerous) to navigate a wheelchair across the parking lot.

What are Access Aisles For? 

This brings us into our second major violation: parking in the blue ADA access aisle beside a handicap space. Not every handicap parking space has the additional striped access aisle next to it. The handicap spaces with the extra access aisle space are made specifically for those with mobility vans or standard vehicles that they transfer into and out of a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility aid. For accessible vehicles, these spaces are especially important because a driver is able to park in the blue handicap parking spot, while the ADA access aisle adjacent to the spot provides the six feet of extra space necessary for the van to deploy its ramp and allow the passenger inside to exit. When someone parks in the access aisle zone, they prevent the van from deploying the ramp, leaving its passenger trapped either inside or outside of the vehicle. Not only is this inconvenient, it can also be dangerous in extreme heat, storms, or cold. 

Who Are Access Aisles For? 

  • Owners of wheelchair accessible vans
  • Owners of full-size vans with a lift
  • Owners of standard vehicles who need extra space to transfer into and out of the vehicle from a wheelchair

Before you become acquainted with the mobility industry, many people are not aware of what the striped spaces mean. Now that you know what a handicap parking violation looks like and how to spot them, keep an eye out for offenders and use the opportunity to educate others. As tempting as it can be, instead of blowing up on a person parked illegally, try explaining to them first what exactly a handicap spot or ADA access aisle is used for. You might find they don't really realize they're in the wrong, or how big of an impact parking in these spaces really is. By educating these violators, we work to end the problem of handicap parking abuse and create more educated and more respectful communities.

How Can I Protect Handicap Parking?

Our dedication to protecting handicap parking spaces and ADA access aisles has continued to grow with time and is now called the BraunAbility Drive for Inclusion movement that includes community outreach and uniting the members of the disability community and their allies to help us address the problems that matter most to you. Learn more about the BraunAbility Drive for Inclusion movement here and get involved!

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