Have you ever seen someone park in a handicap space, with a handicapÂ tag,Â and you know they are by no means disabled? Maybe they’re some young teens that might be borrowing grandma’s car for a bit. Or have you ever heard someone laughing about the fact that they are using a loved one’s placard that has passed on? Well states across the country are catching on to these illegally used handicap placards and they are putting a stop to it.
Many cities across the country do not charge people with handicap stickers for parking at parking meters, but that is coming to an end in several major cities. Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, and many other cities are changing their free parking policy for the disabled. The reason for this change is because of the outrageous number of handicap stickers that are being doled out and so many people are misusing this privilege when they are not truly disabled. The Chicago Police Department found that about 2 out of every 10 handicap placard was illegal in a police sting over the last year.Â This doesn’t include the ones given out by doctors when there is no medical necessity for it.
Many people will be up in arms about this, but this fraud is costing these cities millions of dollars in taxpayer money for refunds being processedÂ to disabled drivers for parking, most of whom are not really disabled. Not only is it costingÂ money, but parkingÂ problems because people who carry these placards are allowed to park as long as they want. They can park forÂ hours, days, or even weeks with no consequences, hogging up parking spaces.
“In the ’70s, when these programs were developed, it was never the notion that people with disabilities are poor. It was that the meters were not accessible. You had to get from the space to the sidewalk, and you remember in some cases you had to put a coin in and turn a handle,” says SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. So, the argument isÂ now that meters are handicap accessible, there is no reason for the free parking.
Although this seems unfair, some states are still trying to help the disabled by giving them special meter-exempt placards that make them exempt from paying at meters if their doctor will attest to the fact that the person cannot physically pay the meter. In doing this, Chicago has decreased their meter-exempt disabled by 92%. As well, they are ensuring that parking meters are becoming easier to pay. Some cities have installed meters that you can pay withÂ your phone.
In changing this policy, many states are seeing positive changes. Parking revenue is up and parking has opened up (although not much in some of the more populated cities) and people with illegal placards are easier to identify because of the new placards being distributed for those who are physically unable to pay the meters.
There will probably be backlash from activists, but with the positive changes in these cities, they probably won’t be going back to the old ways.