The Six Dos and Don’ts of Handicap Parking

Dr Handicap - Blue Disabled Parking Symbol
Dr Handicap - Blue Disabled Parking Symbol

For most of us, handicap parking might seem inconsequential at best, and mildly irritating at worst. We all understand why it’s there, of course, but when you’re doing endless loops of the parking lot and the only free space is the disabled one, you’re bound to feel a little frustrated. This is nothing, however, compared to the frustration, inconvenience, and pain that the disabled feel. To the people suffering from a wide variety of physical handicaps, a disabled parking spot can be a lifeline, helping them move freely around their city and getting them where they need to be.

For anyone new to using a disabled parking permit, the process can be a little tricky and intimidating to navigate; there’s a lot of procedure to follow to avail of the service, and it can all seem a bit much when you’re first starting out. Luckily, once you follow a few basic tenets, it’s easy to get the hang of, and you’ll be an experienced handicap parker in no time at all. For those unsure of where they stand, here’s a handy breakdown of six dos and don’ts when it comes to the world of handicap parking!

Dr Handicap - Blue Disabled Parking Shield

The universally recognized handicap parking symbol.

Do: Make Sure Your Permit Is Legitimate

The first step in following the rules is to make sure your disabled parking permit is valid, in date, and issued from an official source. Many handicapped people worry about getting to the doctor’s office in the first place to retrieve their permit, as it involves making a journey they might be ill-equipped for. This is the perceived catch-22 situation for many people who wish to avail of disabled services. However, in 2018, it is very easy to consult with a doctor online via the virtues of telemedicine, and get your handicap parking permit delivered straight to your door. Just remember to keep it valid at all times and keep a note of when the expiry date is coming up so you can renew in advance.

Don’t: Lend Your Permit To Someone

This should be fairly obvious, but a handicap parking permit is assigned to solely one person. You should not go around lending it to other people, even if they themselves are handicapped. The misuse and abuse of handicap parking permits is an issue both inside and outside the disabled community. The bottom line is that the permit owner needs to be present when the permit is being used. There are no exceptions to this hard and fast rule. Failure to comply might result in your permit being revoked, or even stiffer charges if there are repeat offences. Make sure you keep within the lines on this one!

Do: Make Sure Your Permit Is Visible

Another obvious one: make sure you handicap parking permit can actually be seen! A parking permit that is left upside down or tossed on the passenger seat is of no use to parking officials, and will probably result in a ticket. The ideal place to put your disabled parking permit is hanging from the rearview mirror, with the expiry date and registration details plainly visible. If you can’t hang your permit, then simply place it face up on the dashboard, making sure that it’s clearly visible to someone passing by.

Dr Handicap - Wheelchair on Beach

Just because you can't see a disability, it doesn't mean it's not present.

Don’t: Use Someone Else’s Permit

This is a counterpoint to the entry above, but if you happen to have a close friend or family member who is also handicapped, then don’t switch or swap your permits! Even though you may both be legitimately disabled, permits are only assigned to one person, and are only for use by that one person. If not, you could face fines and possible revoking of your own permit. Just make sure to keep it with you at all times, and you can’t go very far wrong. Think of it like a passport! You wouldn’t dream of using someone else’s passport, nor would you easily misplace it.

Do: Know The Types of Handicap Spaces

Essentially there are three types of handicap parking spaces: standard, a wheelchair van with one side door, and a wheelchair van with two side doors. There are no hard and fast laws forbidding you to use either of the latter two spaces if you don’t need them, but it’s a good idea to be considerate and not take up a space that you don’t need. Handicap parking spaces worldwide are marked with the white wheelchair logo on a blue background. If you see that, you’re all clear to park. Spaces for both types of van are usually marked “van accessible,” and will have an extra strip of width for their side doors.

Don’t: Judge Someone Who Doesn’t Look Handicapped

Handicaps come in all shapes and sizes, and just because a person utilizing a handicap parking space doesn’t immediately appear disabled, that’s not to say they aren’t. It can be understandably frustrating to see someone who doesn’t appear handicapped using a disabled parking space, and in some cases it can be a completely able-bodied person trying their luck. However, make sure you don’t jump into the situation too quickly; many legitimate disabilities can be initially invisible from the naked eye. Just because you don’t see a wheelchair or a leg in plaster, doesn’t mean the individual isn’t disabled.

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