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Handicapped in US Fight to Reclaim Parking Lots

by Medindia Content Team on October 8, 2007 at 12:00 PM
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Handicapped in US Fight to Reclaim Parking Lots

In a country like India couple of seats are usually reserved in buses and trains for the physically handicapped. More often than not healthy people occupy those seats without any qualms and refuse to vacate even when so requested.

In the US it is a different fight they are into. See what they have to say in their recently launched website.


Handicappedfraud.org has been launched as a community service effort to end the misuse of handicapped parking spaces and placards. The disabled have run out of places to park, as their designated handicapped parking spaces are being taken by fraudulent individuals. Our cities are being robbed of serious metered parking revenue to to this abuse as well. The police are far too valuable and busy to stake out parking lots to ticket handicapped parking violators. The abusers therefore go largely unpunished. It is time for our community to become the ambassadors for our cities, and report handicapped parking violators when they see it.

When Maureen Birdsall took her disabled, 92-year-old grandfather to a California hospital, she lost the only available handicapped-parking spot to a woman in a red corvette.

Much to Birdsall's surprise, the woman didn't appear to be disabled. 'I sat there dumbfounded,' she recalled.

She was not the only one outraged by seemingly healthy people illegally using the handicapped parking spaces. After starting the Web site, www.handicappedfraud.org, she received postings from people in 26 states with similar complaints.

The postings come complete with the license plates and handicapped-permit numbers of vehicles suspected of illegally using handicapped spaces. Birdsall sends them to motor vehicle departments.

Her whistle-blower Web site is part of a crackdown by residents, states and towns on the able-bodied who park in spaces labeled for the disabled because they are wider and closest to building entrances.

Xenia increased fines to at least $250 from $40 in the southwest Ohio city. In Texas, Corpus Christi sends out citizen volunteers to ticket offenders.

Waltham, Massachusettes, dedicates police details to do nothing but enforce handicapped-parking laws. The city has spent about $6,000 in grant money for overtime but gotten back about $32,000 in fines.

In most states, people with handicapped placards, plates or stickers can park in designated handicapped spaces and often can park for free at a meter.

But it's illegal to borrow someone's placard — a plastic tag that hangs from the rearview mirror — and use it without the person being in the vehicle. It's also illegal to use the placard of someone who has died or to park in a handicapped space without a permit.

Governments are getting tougher because more placards are in circulation and the public has become more aware of their abuse, said Tim Gilmer, editor of New Mobility, a magazine for wheelchair users with active lifestyles.

Disabled people have become more vocal about their needs, said Terry Moakley, a United Spinal Association spokesman.

'People just don't want to settle for no access or second-rate access,' Moakley said.

Massachusetts is urging its police to crack down after a yearlong investigation culminating in August discovered that nearly one-third of the placards found on cars parked in downtown Boston were being used by people who were not disabled.

'It strikes a nerve with people,' said Ann Dufresne, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. 'They are taking spots away from those people who really need it.'

Mike Marando, department spokesman for the California motor vehicles department said just because people don't appear to be disabled doesn't mean they aren't. Some people with heart conditions or lung disease, for example, have legitimate handicapped permits, he said.

In Corpus Christi, the city plans to double the size of its eight-member citizens parking patrol, which was formed after the city received numerous complaints about violations.

Source: Medindia

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