Motorists are Fined £4m for Abusing Disabled Parking Spaces

Motorists are Fined £4m for Abusing Disabled Parking Spaces

12 Dec

By Clarissa Hearn


New data obtained by Confused.com through Freedom of Information revealed up to 97,138 drivers received fines for parking in a designated disabled person’s parking space without displaying a Blue Badge permit in 2017. This amounts to a whopping £4,244,949 in penalty charge notices (PCNs) for both on-street and off-street parking violations.
 
However, it isn’t just disabled parking spaces that motorists are obstructing, as a further £1,709,679 was issued in PCNs to motorists blocking a dropped kerb, which can be used for easy passage between the pavement and road for wheelchair users or pushchairs.
 
Given that there are generally more standard car parking spaces than dedicated disabled bays, the data obtained by Confused.com proves that motorists are more inclined to hop in a disabled parking space during busier periods such as the Christmas shopping rush. In fact, 16% of offences for parking in a disabled parking space without displaying a Blue Badge in 2017 happened throughout November and December, which everyone knows is the worst time of the year to try and find a parking space.
 
Data from 130 local authorities across the UK to found that motorists in the South East received the most fines for leaving their car in designated Blue Badge parking space. See how this compares to other regions across the UK using Confused.com’s ‘Parking Space Invaders’ visualisation.
 
With so many motorists taking spaces designated for Blue Badge holders, this leaves few parking spots for those that need them, making getting out of the car much harder and lengthening the walk from the car to the shop, their house, or other destination. More than three quarters of frequent users said that they have had to park in a standard space on more than one occasion because there weren’t any disabled spaces available.
 
However, this raises the question of if there are enough parking spaces for Blue Badge holders in the first place. In fact, further investigation found that there are currently more than 42,000 council-owned parking spaces for disabled drivers and 1.2 million Blue Badge holders in the UK – which works out as 34 permit holders to one disabled parking space. It’s no wonder more than half of Blue Badge holders are calling for more designated disabled parking spaces to be made available. With government plans to open up the Blue Badge scheme to include invisible disabilities in 2019, there will certainly be a shortage of spaces for disabled motorists or passengers, even if people did stop abusing them unnecessarily.
 
But there is no denying there is very much an issue with people abusing disabled parking spaces given the millions of pounds motorists have had to pay out as a punishment for their actions. And this abuse is something many motorists have put their hands up to, with almost a 8% of UK drivers who are not Blue Badge users admitting to using a designated disabled parking space.
 
Unfortunately, the majority of these did not have a valid excuse, with more than a third admitting they did it because they were “only going to be quick”. A further one in four claimed there were plenty of other disabled spaces available. However, some faith is restored, as nearly one in five of these offenders were confronted by another motorist, of which the majority (61%) then went on to move their car.
 
Almost one in five motorists who do not use a Blue Badge have received at least one fine at some point, costing them £102, on average. Although for some, this isn’t enough with more than a third of drivers wanting to see a harsher punishment for people who abuse disabled parking spaces. Seven in 10 admitted they feel infuriated when they see people abusing a Blue Badge parking space and one in four are confused why people park in a disabled space if they do not have a Blue Badge, given that almost a third think the rules are very clear.
 
Motorists are also being served some pretty big fines for parking in front of a dropped kerb, which can obstruct road or pavement access for wheelchair users. One in five drivers admit to parking in front of a dropped kerb – a quarter of which were fined an average of £154.
 
Given the fine for abusing or obstructing disabled access can cost offenders more than £100, it might seem that this would be enough to stop them from doing it again. However, according to the research, motorists who have wrongly parked in a disabled space admit to doing so four times on average. Perhaps this was until they found a fine on their doorstep.
 
Some motorists have taken it upon themselves to call out offenders, with almost one in 10 saying they have confronted another driver for parking in a disabled space without displaying a Blue Badge. A further one in six would confront a driver if they parked in a designated disabled space if they were not displaying their Blue Badge, or didn’t look disabled. However, almost half of drivers admitting they have witnessed another motorist wrongly parking in a disabled bay, but did not confront them as it was not their place.
 
There is no denying that parking spaces can be quite difficult to come by, particularly during busy shopping periods, but there is clearly a need for more spaces for Blue Badge holders, especially with more being introduced in 2019.
 
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says:
“Disabled parking spaces are available for a reason, and motorists should be mindful of leaving these to those who need them. I am with the 24% of motorists who are confused about why people park in disabled spaces if they aren’t a Blue Badge holder.But it’s clear this is an issue across the UK, and millions of pounds have been issued to drivers in fines, as shown in our animated illustration. I’m sure this is a cost motorists could do without. We urge drivers to do the right thing and stick to standard parking spaces to avoid being landed with a fine. If they’re worried about a lack of parking, then leaving that little bit earlier might give them more time to find a space.”

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