What Is A Travel Parking Placard And How Does It Affect Disabled Drivers?

Disabled drivers are usually comfortable with local rules around disabled parking, but things can get confusing when visiting other states or countries. When traveling abroad or out of state, disabled drivers may not be entitled to the same parking freedoms as they are at home. So when do disabled drivers need a travel parking DP placard?

Essentially, you need a travel parking DP placard when you wish to use a state’s disabled bays. A travel parking placard allows disabled drivers to use disabled parking for an allotted number of days. Almost all U.S. states recognize disabled parking permits, but each state does have its own rules and regulations. The requirements for disabled permits for visiting motorists vary from state to state. Sometimes, an out-of-state or international permit will be fine, but in other cases, a temporary permit may be required. We recommend checking with the local DMV advisors about the requirements specific to the state you’re traveling to before using their disabled parking facilities.

Each American state issues a variety of disabled parking permits. These include permanent license plates and placards, temporary placards, organizational placards and plates, and Disabled Veterans license plates. Each of these varying types of disabled parking permits hold validity in the EU and other European countries. The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) devised a blanket policy in 1978 for disabled drivers across Europe, which entitles disabled drivers the same rights across all participating countries. The law remains applicable today.

The comprehensive list of ECMT-compliant countries includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Additional countries that recognize the ECMT are Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States.

disabled parking sign painted on ground
Image by Amit Bansal on Unsplash: A travel parking DP placard or travel parking plates enable disabled drivers to park in accessible spots around the world.

When traveling to different countries, it’s important to establish the rules of the local governing body. You should be certain your travel parking DP placard is authorized for the location you are visiting. Generally, the basis of disabled parking bay rules in the EU mirrors that of the U.S. You can find a contact list of commonly requested states below, curated by the US Embassy in the UK.

Remember: always display your placard in clear sight to avoid penalties. Whenever using a disabled driver’s permit, ensure the permit holder is an occupant of the vehicle. Spaces will be branded with the Universal Symbol of Access (the wheelchair symbol). As per the FIA (Federation Internationale de I‘Automobile) Guide, it’s always a good idea to consult the specification displayed on parking signs before parking in a disabled spot.

When traveling across the U.S., disabled parking bays are widely available to those who need them. This is thanks to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which secures appropriate facilities for disabled people at relevant locations. The sentiment is echoed around many other countries, embracing disabled patrons for a welcoming experience.

The qualifying conditions for a disabled person parking placard in the U.S. vary from state to state. The core group of conditions generally includes:

  • Inability to walk 200 feet without needing to rest.
  • Inability to walk without the use of a crutch, cane, wheelchair, brace, another person, or another assistive device.
  • Sufferers of lung disease.
  • Heart conditions (designated Class III or IV by the American Heart Association) and an arthritic condition.
  • Dependency on a portable oxygen tank.

If you have a qualifying condition and would benefit from the use of disabled bays, you can authorize your vehicle in a few ways. The first is with a disabled person license plate, which is registered and remains fixed to the vehicle. This solution best suits the personal use of a disabled driver. Disabled parking plates also have the advantage of being displayed clearly at all times when using disabled parking – there can be no confusion or forgetting your permit when it’s attached to your vehicle!

The second is a disabled placard, which is transferable to whichever vehicle the disabled person is using. This is a mobile form of accreditation that is perfect for caregivers who help disabled drivers get around. You may also be able to access metered parking without paying or be allowed to park in time-limited spaces for longer than posted.

As a disabled person license plate is restricted to the vehicle it’s registered to, the disabled person will need to obtain a disabled person parking placard to make any temporary transport eligible for disabled parking.

woman in wheelchair in scenic location
Image by Zachary Kyra-Derksen on Unsplash: With a disabled person parking placard, disabled travelers needn’t be restricted by difficult parking.

If you need help obtaining the necessary documentation for disabled parking when traveling, Dr. Handicap may be able to help. If you’re without insurance, not registered with a doctor, or have low mobility, Dr. Handicap’s telemedicine service can be an incredibly convenient and cost-saving way to get the recommendations you need.

Links to other Motor Vehicle Departments can be found on the website of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

  • California
    DMV Placard
    P. O. Box 942869
    Sacramento, California 94269-0001
    tel: (916) 657-8135
  • Florida
    Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
    Motor Vehicles Division
    Neil Kirkman Bldg
    Tallahassee FL 32399-0620
    See also: Disabled Parking Permits for Florida Visitors
  • Illinois
    Secretary of State
    Persons with Disabilities License Plates/Placard Unit
    501 S. 2nd Street, Rm. 541
    Springfield IL 62756
    tel: (217)-782-2709, (217)-782-2434 or (217)-782-3166
  • Massachusetts
    Attn: Medical Affairs Branch
    Registry of Motor Vehicles
    PO Box 199100
    Boston, MA 02119-9100
    tel: (617) 351-2700
  • Nevada
    Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety
    Registration Division
    Special Plate Section
    555 Wright Way
    Carson City NV 89711-0760
    tel: (775) 687-3281
  • New York
    Department of Motor Vehicles
    6 Empire State Plaza
    Albany, NY 12228
    tel: (518) 473-9324
  • Texas
    Vehicle Titles and Registration
    Department of Transportation
    200 E. Riverside Drive
    Austin TX 78704
    tel: (512) 465-7611
  • Virginia
    Department of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 27412
    Richmond VA 23269
    tel: (804) 367-6602

Featured image by Romain Virtuel on Unsplash

Traveling Over The Festive Season? Here Are 12 Safety Tips For Disabled Drivers

What precautions should be taken while driving during the holidays? How do you prepare for winter driving? What are the most important holiday driving safety tips? These are important questions every driver needs to consider before traveling over the festive season.

Most holiday driving safety tips are obvious and should be familiar to all drivers. However, other considerations can often be overlooked. It is crucial that you follow good holiday travel safety advice when driving in December. Knowing how to drive safely on winter roads will mean you and your loved ones stay safe while traveling these holidays.

Driving on winter roads during the festive season is often hazardous. The weather is usually cold and snow and ice can make roads slippery. Disabled drivers need to take extra care when traveling by road over the holidays; if you have a disability, you may need to consider additional precautions, like packing extra safety equipment and medication.

Dr Handicap - winter roads
Image by egorshitikov on Pixabay: Icy roads can be a hazard when driving over the festive season.

Let’s dive into 12 important festive season safety tips for disabled drivers.

1. Make Sure Your Vehicle Has All Necessary Adaptations

Disabled driver vehicle adaptations come in many forms, all of which make it possible for people with disabilities to drive their own vehicle safely and comfortably. When you are driving this festive season, make sure that your vehicle is kitted out with any and all of the vehicle adaptations that you need.

Some of the most popular vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers are:

  • Hand controls
  • Pedal and steering wheel extensions
  • Wheelchair lifts and ramps
  • Transfer seats
  • Reduced effort braking systems
  • Left foot accelerators

2. Make Sure Your Vehicle Is In Tip-Top Condition

Before you travel, make sure your vehicle is in perfect condition. Check that:

  • All lights are working
  • Tires are in good condition and fully pumped up
  • Fluid levels are where they should be
  • There are no leaks under the vehicle
  • Wipers are working
  • Warning lights are working
  • Your car battery is healthy

3. Know What Traffic Conditions Will Be Like On Your Journey

Take traffic conditions into account when planning your journey. If you can travel during periods when roads are less busy, and less treacherous, try to do so. It will make your journey quicker and safer.

4. Keep Informed About The Weather

Make sure to keep up to date on weather conditions on your route. Ice, snow, wind, rain, hail, and storms can all make driving more dangerous. Try to avoid traveling during extreme weather conditions.

5. Pack Any Medication You May Need

Always remember to pack any medication you may need on your journey. It is a good idea to bring more medication than you intend to take in case you get delayed or stranded. Make sure there is easy-to-see identification on your medication, as well as any allergies advice, in case you get involved in an accident and are unable to communicate with first responders.

6. Have All Necessary Safety Equipment In Your Vehicle

You should have all of the following safety equipment with you in your vehicle when you travel:

  • First aid kit
  • Drinking water
  • Spare medication
  • Cell phone and car mobile phone charger
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Reflective triangles and a reflective vest
  • Spare tire, tripod jack, wheel wrench
  • Tool kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Duct tape
  • Snow shovel, snow brush, cat litter for traction
  • Windshield washer fluid

7. Stay COVID-Safe

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to stay COVID-safe, particularly throughout the holidays. This may mean bringing additional hygiene and safety products with you when you travel this festive season. At a minimum, make sure you have the following:

  • Face masks and/or face shields
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubber gloves
Dr Handicap - holiday travel
Image by Hans on Pixabay: Always check what weather conditions will be like when you travel over the holidays.

8. Practice Defensive Driving

Always drive like your life depends on it… because it does. Some of the most important core tenets of safe defensive driving are:

  • Have SAFETY as a first priority.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t rely on good driving from other road users.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Drive within the speed limit.

9. Avoid Distractions While Driving

This should be a no-brainer. But unfortunately, it is still all too common to see people not paying proper attention when driving. Using a mobile device, playing with the stereo system, chatting to other people in the vehicle… It is easy to get distracted when driving, especially when on a long journey. But it’s vital to avoid distractions, because it only takes a split second to lose control of your vehicle.

10. Stay Alert And Wide Awake While Driving

When driving on long journeys, it is easy to get sleepy. But drowsy driving is extremely dangerous. Make sure you are wide awake and alert while driving. If you feel even remotely sleepy, pull over and rest, get some fresh air, or get a coffee. Do whatever you need to do to stay wide awake while driving.

11. Never Drive Under The Influence

This one should also be completely obvious, but it is so important that it needs to be said: NEVER drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes any legal drugs or medications that may make you drowsy or compromise your ability to be fully alert and capable of driving safely.

12. Don’t Forget Your Disabled Parking Placard

Finally, always remember to bring your disabled parking placard with you when you travel. Disabled parking permits from all US states are valid in every other US state (as well as several other countries, including Mexico, Canada, the UK, and the EU). So wherever you’re traveling this festive season, you will most likely be able to use your disabled parking placard when you’re there.

Featured image by Taras Zaluzhnyi on Unsplash

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