The Disabled Drivers’ Association of Ireland (DDAI) have urged the government to alter the legislation so that traffic officers and the police can fine drivers who illegally park in accessible parking bays.
The group’s Bay Watch campaign aims to address the issue by calling on the government to change the law so that traffic wardens, as well as the police, can now issue fines to those who illegally park in handicap bays. The campaign also aims to highlight the issue of the abuse that occurs in such areas.
A survey conducted by Coyne Research, in conjunction with the members of the association, revealed that there is a lack of knowledge about the legislation regarding the parking of disabled people inside private car parks.
The results of the survey revealed that 42% of the respondents believe that a traffic warden can issue a fine to a person who parks in a handicap bay in a private parking facility. However, 45% of the respondents said they didn’t know about this practice. Over 70% of the respondents indicated that those who park in disabled parking bays illegally should be prosecuted.
Response of Disability Campaigners:
Commenting on the launch of the Bay Watch campaign, disabled driver and disability equality campaigner Sean O’Kelly said, “I am delighted to see such an initiative being brought out. As a wheelchair user and a driver, I often see cars parked in disabled spaces without a parking badge in shopping centre and private car parks. I hope that effective enforcement will be made in the near future. “
Coyne Research Survey Highlights
A nationally representative survey of 1,000 adults aged 18+ was undertaken by Coyne Research on behalf of the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI). It revealed the following:
- Contrary to the existing position, 42% of those surveyed believed that a traffic warden or a garda can issue a parking fine to someone parked in a disabled parking bay on private party. 45% said they didn’t know.
- 74% noticed disabled parking bays being abused by non-badge holding drivers on a regular or occasional basis.
- 7 in 10 agreed that those who illegally park in disabled parking bays should face prosecution, not just fines.
- Almost 4 in 5 people are aware that a parking permit is issued to an individual not a vehicle. This rises to over 9 in 10 amongst permit holders.
- 7 in 10 are aware that the permit holder must be in the vehicle when the permit is being used and this rises to circa 9 in 10 amongst disabled parking permit holders.
- When asked had they ever approached a driver parked in a disabled parking bay without a parking permit displayed, 82% said no and 16% said yes. Again, this rose significantly amongst disabled parking permit holders, with 58% saying they had done so.
DDAI Member Research
800 DDAI members from all over Ireland took part in the member survey.
- Almost one third of the disabled drivers interviewed were unaware that traffic wardens and gardai were unable to issue fines to those parked in private carparks like supermarkets and hospitals and offices. 24% thought they had the powers to do so and 45% didn’t know.
- Over 81% of members have noticed disabled parking bays being abused, higher than the national average.
- 95% said that abusers of parking bays should face prosecution.
- Almost half said that when they reported disabled parking abuse to supermarket or shopping centre staff, action was rarely or very rarely taken.
- In finding space in private carparks, 64% said that hospitals were the most difficult to find disabled parking bays followed by 46% for other private carparks.
- 81% said that local authorities and an Gardai Siochana needed to do more to tackle parking bay abuse. Almost 70% said their permit had never been inspected by either traffic wardens, the gardai or private car park operators.
- 96% of members said they wanted traffic wardens and the Gardai to do more inspection of parking permits and parking bays.
The Irish Disabled Drivers Association is a national organization that promotes the equal opportunity and independence of disabled individuals. It works in the areas of education, training, and mobility. For more statements and information made by DDAI members see www.ddai.ie