There’s nothing quite as frustrating as being unable to find a disabled parking space when you need one. Have you ever been constantly circling, looking for a spot and thinking to yourself, “Why don’t they have more disabled parking spaces? How many should they have, anyway?”
If you’ve had these thoughts, then you’re in luck, because here’s what you need to know about your rights to use a disabled parking space and who to complain to if there aren’t enough provided.
Accessible parking spaces make it possible for those with disabilities to get into a vehicle, out of one, and also around it. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are detailed guidelines for every public area when it comes to providing you with disabled parking spaces. These guidelines dictate the sizes of the spaces, the signage, and the routes available to those with disabilities, and must be followed.
Disabled parking spaces are required by the ADA to be large enough for a vehicle to park there and provide ample space to the right or left of the vehicle to allow a wheelchair to comfortably exit.
There are two types of disabled parking spaces: non-van accessible and van accessible. The difference between the two is the width of the access aisle. All private facilities and businesses must follow these guidelines under the law.
Disabled Parking Essentials
ADA standards require businesses to provide disabled parking spaces to a certain standard of design. That means that they must follow these guidelines:
- Location – Handicap parking spaces should be built on the shortest route of travel to the entrance of the building. Any car parks that don’t service specific buildings must place these parking spots in a place that gives the user the shortest route to the pedestrian entrance of the car park.
- Size – Handicap parking spaces must be at least 96 inches wide and have an adjacent aisle for access. For van accessible spaces, the access aisle must be eight feet wide, with standard car spots requiring access aisles five feet wide.
The Number of Spaces Required
Car parks are required by the ADA to provide a certain number of handicap parking spaces relative to the number of regular parking spaces. The guidelines specify:
- 1–25 spaces must have 1 disabled parking space
- 26–50 spaces must have 2 disabled parking spaces
- 51–75 spaces must have 3 disabled parking spaces
- 76–100 spaces must have 4 disabled parking spaces
- 101–150 spaces must have 5 disabled parking spaces
- 151–200 spaces must have 6 disabled parking spaces
- 201–300 must have 7 disabled parking spaces
- 301–400 must have 8 disabled parking spaces
- 401–500 must have 9 disabled parking spaces
- 201–1000 must provide 2 percent of their total parking spaces to disabled spaces
- 1001 and over must provide 20 disabled parking spaces plus 1 for each additional 100 spaces after 1000
Is It the Same in Each State?
While the ADA provides a central set of guidelines that all states must adhere to, state and local governments can impose their own rules and codes. If they choose to do so, then these rules and codes must meet or exceed the ADA requirements. You should make it a practice to check with your local government to find out what the disability parking rules are for your area.
What If There Aren’t Enough Spaces?
Businesses are required under the ADA to provide disabled parking spaces. If you feel that disability parking is lacking, then there are a few things you can do.
First, try approaching the business yourself to alert them to the need. Often, individual complaints will do the trick, because it’s far less expensive to create the appropriate number of spots and follow all the guidelines than it is to face a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for violating the ADA.
If you feel as if you’re not getting anywhere by discussing the issue with the business, then you can file a complaint with the DOJ via their website. The failure to provide adequate access and parking is considered discrimination under the law, so the government takes it very seriously.
You can also send a letter to the DOJ. Whether you send a letter online or via the post, you still need to include this information:
- Full name, address, and phone number
- Name of the organization, institution, or business
- A description of the discrimination – in this case, failure to provide enough adequate and accessible disability parking
- Any other information you believe supports your complaint
The DOJ will inform you of any action taken to rectify the issue.
Accessible disability parking is something you are entitled to under the law. If you feel the right standards aren’t being followed by local businesses, then it may be time to take matters into your own hands. Know your rights and take steps to ensure you’re getting what you need.