Friday, November 16, 2012

Ideal parking not worth it

Parking Enforcement Week puts high price on misuse of handicap parking spots

by Aaron Bizier, Guest Writer

A woman in her mid-30s drives up and parks in a disabled spot at the local grocery store.  You see her place a disability placard on the mirror and step out.
You pause. She looks fine — she doesn’t appear to have a condition warranting the use of that disability placard.
This could mean one of two things:  she has a disability that is not readily apparent, or she is using a friend or family member’s placard. If she’s using someone else’s placard, she is breaking the law.
The fine for parking in a disabled parking spot without a proper placard or permit is $450. Imagine what someone could do with that money, especially a typical college student.
Someone could pay for groceries, textbooks, a plane ticket, quite a few tanks of gas or two iPhones!
In order to raise awareness about disabled parking misuse, the Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities and local law enforcement collaborated to facilitate a Parking Enforcement Week.
The Tacoma City Council declared Nov. 26 - 30 Parking Enforcement Week, in order to increase both awareness and enforcement.
Of course, you may have “good” reasons for parking illegally in a disabled parking space.
The weeks leading up to the holiday season are the busiest shopping days of the year.
Stores everywhere are crowded, your patience is wearing thin and the “Disabled Parking Only” spots may be tempting.
Drivers justify illegally parking in disabled spots if their errands won’t take long or if other nearby spaces are occupied. Whatever the reason, illegally parking in a disabled spot is wrong.

People with disabled parking permits have them for a reason, whether their condition is visible or not.
Disabled parking spots enable people with disabilities to go out, run errands, go to stores and so on.
Without access to these spots, many people would not be able to do the important things that they anticipate being able to do.
Accessible parking is essential to the quality of life for many people with disabilities.
Disabled parking misuse is more than an issue of inconvenience.
For drivers with disabilities, these parking spots are vital.
Please follow parking laws all year round, not just during Parking Enforcement Week when there are more watchful eyes on the lookout.