The illegal invasion of disabled parking spaces is one of the top problems facing disabled drivers in Ireland today, according to an online survey by the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) . Bloggers Paddy Smyth #MyDisabledLife and Sean O’Kelly – ‘A Day in my Wheels attended a photocall to highlight the issue ahead of the upcoming free Disabled Drivers Motorshow and Conference on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 September in the RDS, Dublin - www.ddmotorshow.ie. At present, gardai and traffic wardens cannot issue tickets for cars illegally parked in disabled spaces in carparks belonging to commercial premises, shopping centres, schools and other similar locations.
Paddy Smyth said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this campaign as the law around illegal parking in accessible spaces in shopping centres and the like needs to change; able bodied drivers don't realise the effect that that illegal parking has on someone who is actually 'disabled' and needs that space, so we need to make more people aware of this.
As a person who is learning to drive for the third time, when I began it was very hard to get evening or weekend lessons as there were only lessons available during working hours. To me, it was insinuating that 'Disabled Persons' do not work which is ridiculous, because I do work, and I work hard. Thank God, this has changed, now I can get evening lessons when I want, so when I finally get my car, having access and, more important, unblocked access to disabled drivers parking spaces going to be critical for me,” he continued.
Sean O’Kelly also said: “Ever since I passed my driving test late last year, I have fully appreciated the reason why the disabled parking spaces are wide. This is to allow wheelchair users the space to get their chair out of the car. I am thrilled that laws have been enforced for those who park in disabled parking spaces without a badge and those who use their loved ones/friends’ badge, however their needs to be strict laws in private car parks and shopping centre car parks. I am asking you all out there to please put yourself in our shoes and park elsewhere. “
According to the survey, the top five issues facing disabled drivers are:-
• Shopping Centres and other private carparks not tackling illegal parking in accessible spaces
• Drivers parking in disabled parking spaces without a permit
• Disabled spaces not wide enough/drivers parking too close to the back or side of a wheelchair accessible vehicle making it impossible to exit
• Misuse of the Disabled Persons Parking Card
• Trying to refuel cars in petrol stations
Richard Ryder, marketing manager with the Disabled Drivers Association said: ” We would welcome the extension of enforcement policies to disabled spaces in publicly available private carparks and in the future, possible penalty points imposed for illegal parking like this in all publicly available carparks.”.
Founded in 1970, the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) is a registered charity with over 5,000 members, working for disabled people, promoting independence and equal opportunity through mobility, education and training. The free Motorshow and Conference showcases the latest vehicles, associated products and services to people with limited mobility, their families, carers and healthcare professionals.
In addition, the Conference will cover key topics including: motor industry in ireland – future trends in electric/hybrid vehicles, the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Tax Relief Scheme, comparison of benefits accruing with electric/hybrid vehicles and the cost and availability of vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers and passengers.
The Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland Motorshow and Conference runs from 10-5 p.m. on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th September 2018 at the RDS, Dublin. Entry is free, with free parking for drivers with a valid European Parking Card. See www.ddmotorshow.ie