Disability news

Ireland introduces scheme clamping down on drivers misusing accessible bays

Nikki Bradley getting out of her car

Ireland has introduced a new scheme clamping down on drivers who misuse accessible parking spaces.

A study compiled by the Disabled Drivers Association revealed a number of people do not confront those who illegally park in blue badge space in fear that they will be physically or verbally abused.

Over 26,000 people across Ireland participated in the survey, 96 percent said they would welcome a text service which would notice a nearby traffic warden that an accessible bay was being misused.

Nikki Bradley [pictured above] is a blue badge holder, she lost her leg to cancer at the age of 16.

"As someone living with a physical disability, I have experienced first-hand the negative knock- on effect that occurs when someone unlawfully parks in a disabled bay," she told RTE.

"I have often found myself left with no option but to park in a 'normal' parking space which makes it extremely difficult to get out of my car."

Ms Bradley uses a prosthetic leg, hiding her disability, but in doing so there are some repercussions when she is challenged for parking in an accessible space.

"I don't look disabled from the waist up. It's only when I get out of the car that you can actually see my prosthetic leg," she said.

"And I found myself in situations before where I felt the need to rush out of the car to show them that you know I had a disability which isn't right.

"I shouldn't have to do that. So my one piece of advice is to please look for the badge."

Bradley, from Donegal,  is now supporting the Text Alert Scheme since the campaign was introduced in her country.

"The text alert scheme would be honestly life changing for so many people in my position and I welcome it wholeheartedly. It will give those living with reduced mobility that feeling of power and control that they have not had prior to now," she told the publication.

"Parking in an accessible parking bay is not a luxury. It is a necessity."

The survey asked why people won’t challenge those who misuse an accessible car parking bay.

Amongst the most common replies were:

  • Fear of confrontation
  • Fear of being physically or verbally abused
  • Didn't want to cause a scene
  • Too shy to do so
  • Not worth the abuse
  • Too dangerous/fear for own safety
  • No point/waste of time
  • Don't have the power to tell them to move or issue a fine

Richard Ryder from the Disabled Drivers Association said: "Our survey wasn’t confined to our members, we received a huge response from across the community, with many people without disabilities commenting they are annoyed and frustrated with the misuse of accessible parking bays.

"It’s very clear that people want an opportunity to be able to do something about parking bay abuse but in a safe way. It’s why we are calling on city and county councils to begin using a Text Alert Scheme in their areas. It’s safe, it’s easy and it’s a significant deterrent."

The initiative is already up and running in Lucan and Rathfarnham in Dublin as well as Gorey, Co. Wexford where every accessible space is under a sign displaying the bay’s number and a phone number which people can text to alert traffic wardens.

Ryder said: "We're sick to hear about all these excuses day in and day out. People need to realise that people maybe sometimes we're going to turn to might have to go home if they can't find a space.

"So please, please do not use the spaces that are needed by people. And we will call on people just to stop using them, think again and stop the abuse."

[ Over half of the respondents in the survey said they had at one point confronted someone parking illegally in an accessible bay. ]

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