If you read my blogs, follow me on my social media sites, or know me personally, you’re aware of my philosophy of ESD, which stands for “Every Stinkin’ Day” as in, “Live every stinkin’ day as if it’s your last.”
How do I do that? I focus on the positives in life. I believe in laughing, having fun, and not allowing the actions of others to ruin my day.
For the most part, I’m successful.
Unfortunately, there is still one issue I face on a daily basis that continues to rub me the wrong way. Every time I encounter it, no matter how hard I try to not let it bother me, my mood turns foul and I even — occasionally — become confrontational.
My issue? Clearly mobile individuals that park in handicapped spaces while my wife, who is wheelchair enabled, has to park at the very end of the parking lot so we can get her into and out of her wheelchair. What’s worse is if I’m not with her and she can’t find a far away space, she has to leave and not park at all. If someone parks next to her while she’s away from her car, she would not have enough room to maneuver the wheelchair. In other words, someone that is inappropriately parked out of convenience and pure selfishness prevents her and other disabled individuals from visiting that location.
Please don’t get me wrong. I do not confront just anyone. However, if someone is jogging from his or her car to the store and nobody else is in the car, I take that as a personal affront. If someone drops someone off in front of a destination far from the parking space then goes into another location that’s closest to the space and returns to their car alone, ready to drive away, I take offense.
Why do people feel it’s acceptable to use the disabled placard that belongs to a relative if they are not along for the ride? Why do people use handicapped stickers of relatives that are no longer physically able to travel, or worse, have passed away?
Staggering Statistics in the Abuse of Handicapped Parking
Am I the only one that encounters fraudulent abusers?
- In a recent New York Times report, at least 227 workers at Miami International Airport were caught parking near airport terminals with illegally obtained disabled parking permits. Many were carrying heavy baggage at the time they were questioned.
- In Boston, a group of thieves went on a crime spree and used sledgehammers to smash through windshields to steal disabled parking permits from their legitimate owners. In that same town, 1,000 parking permits were inspected. Non-disabled drivers were using one-third of the permits. This included 49 permits issued to people who had died.
- In California, where permit abuse is most rampant, one out of 16 drivers has a disabled parking permit — more than double the ratio of disabled drivers nationwide, according to ADA statistics.
Some jurisdictions require drivers to turn in their handicapped placards once they no longer need them. However, most states, such as Maryland and Virginia, don’t keep track of who or how many actually abide by this policy.
According to one report, police state in most cases they don’t issue tickets to violators unless it’s clearly evident it’s being used by someone that is not disabled. Unfortunately, some disabilities are difficult to spot. The solution? They ignore the violators.
Police also indicate they don’t patrol for parking violations on private property, such as shopping mall parking lots.
In other words, it is easy to obtain and abuse this policy.
Springfield, Illinois is attempting to be the exception. Police are writing tickets to cars parked in handicapped spaces without a visibly placed placard or license plate issued to disabled individuals.
Over the recent holiday season, the State Police issued 166 citations totaling $71,250 in fines. Most were issued to owners of cars that were illegally parked in shopping malls.
They checked the validity of 8,336 disability parking placards. Of those, 103 were confiscated.
In other places, such as Detroit, Michigan, the press is getting involved in shaming the violators who abuse the use of placards and handicapped parking stickers or license plates:
Civil Vigilance Is the Best We Can Do
Does this mean the situation is hopeless? It may appear that way.
So what will I do, now that I know the odds are stacked so heavily against us?
I will do what I always do. I’ll congratulate them on their ability to walk (and jog) in a physically fit manner. I will then ask them if they are not disabled, if they would mind leaving the space available next time so that my wife, an amputee, can utilize the space in the manner it was intended: not to get us closer to our destination, but to allow us enough space to open her car door so a wheelchair can be placed next to her seat so she can easily leave and return to her vehicle.
Maybe I’m being a bit insensitive to the able-bodied lazy people out there. To those individuals, I apologize. However, if I see you in the act, don’t expect me to look the other way. I am not that compassionate yet and don’t plan to be any time soon.