DDAI Launches Text Alert Campaign to Combat Disabled Parking Abuse

A new campaign is urging city and county councils to adopt a text alert scheme aimed at regulating the misuse of accessible parking bays.

The initiative was prompted by a recent survey conducted by the Disabled Drivers Association, which revealed that concerns about physical and verbal abuse deter members from confronting illegally parked vehicles in public areas. Of the 2,600 survey participants nationwide, an overwhelming 96% expressed support for a mobile phone-based text alert system that would promptly notify local wardens of illegal parking incidents. 

In the survey, approximately two-thirds of the participants were female, while one-third were male. When asked why they refrained from approaching illegally parked vehicles, 88% of respondents cited various reasons such as: Fear of conflict, Apprehension of physical or verbal assault, Reluctance to create a public disturbance, Perceived danger or concern for personal safety, Feeling powerless to enforce the law or impose a penalty.

Parking in a disabled spot without a valid permit is against the law, resulting in a €150 fine, which escalates to €225 if unpaid within 28 days. Despite these penalties, parking bay abuse persists, as highlighted by Richard Ryder from the Disabled Drivers Association

The program is currently operational in Lucan and Rathfarnham in Dublin, as well as in Gorey, Co Wexford. Each publicly accessible parking bay is equipped with a sign that prominently displays the bay number and a corresponding mobile phone number. If an unauthorized vehicle is parked in one of these bays or if someone is misusing a permit, concerned individuals can simply send a text message containing the bay number to notify the traffic warden.

At present, traffic authorities like gardaí and traffic wardens lack the authority to penalize drivers who unlawfully park in accessible spots in private parking areas such as shopping centres, educational institutions, hospitals and other spaces.

The findings of a survey on this matter will be presented at the charity’s Annual General Meeting in Galway City, where a three-year strategic plan will also be unveiled.