Tuesday 19 January 2016

Fines up for disabled parking misuse

First-time offenders to pay $200, from $50; authorities plan stiffer measures if needed
By Adrian Lim and Rachel Chia YT, The Straits Times, 18 Jan 2016

Drivers caught misusing parking spaces for the disabled in public carparks now face heftier fines, The Straits Times has learnt.

Fines for first-time offenders have been quadrupled from $50 to $200 since December, with the authorities saying that they are monitoring the situation and will consider stiffer measures if necessary.

Heftier fines for motorists who misuse parking spaces for the disabled. First-time offenders to pay $200, from $50.
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Ministry of National Development (MND) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) revealed the higher penalties last week, in response to media queries.

"The higher fines help to deter abled people from using the accessible lots. People with disabilities will then not be deprived of such lots," they said in a joint statement.

Accessible parking spaces are about 11/2 times the size of regular ones. To use them, motorists must display a label identifying them as a person with disabilities (Class 1) or caregiver (Class 2). Caregivers are allowed to occupy the lots for up to 60 minutes, to allow them to pick up or drop off a person with disabilities.

In 2014, 1,229 Class 2 parking labels were issued, 62 per cent more than the 757 in 2010.

Over the same period, the number of Class 1 parking labels given to disabled drivers increased by 39 per cent, from 271 to 377.

The Government said last year it is looking to tighten the way these labels are issued, following a spike in users and feedback about the shortage of such reserved spaces.

Earlier this month, ST reported on how a wheelchair user had difficulty getting into his car, which was parked in a spot for the disabled, after a taxi was parked next to his car. The story reached over 477,000 users on Facebook, and was shared more than 3,000 times.

Besides stiffer fines, the Government is looking to do more. The MSF and SG Enable, a government-established agency to help people with disabilities, are piloting a new design of accessible parking labels to boost visibility and help in enforcement.

The new labels, currently used by members of the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA), are set to be introduced in the middle of the year.

The authorities said public awareness campaigns have helped reduce the number of offences.

The Housing Board does not track offences specific to illegal parking in disabled spaces in the 1,800 or so carparks it operates.

But at carparks run by the Urban and Redevelopment Authority, fewer have been booked for such offences. In 2013, there were 237 summonses issued, but this has dropped to 175 in 2014, and 153 last year. URA operates 134 off-street carparks, as well as other kerbside ones around the island.

"Although the numbers may be small, the inconvenience that unauthorised parking causes for people with disabilities is significant at the time of need," said MND and MSF.

HWA president Edmund Wan said stiffer fines would help deter offenders as it "hurts them in the pocket", but would not eliminate the problem completely.

He said HWA is looking to run a public education campaign this year to raise awareness.

Mr Dexter Goh, 57, a wheelchair user who drives a car, said every few months he encounters an incident where a disabled parking space is misused. This is better than five years ago, when he came across a case every few weeks.

Still, Mr Goh, an administrative executive, said: "We need the lots because of the extra space, so that we can open the car doors fully, and get in from our wheelchairs."

Wheelchair user Cai Zhenquan could not get back into his car after lunch as a taxi was parked next to his vehicle in a parking lot for the disabled. The offender only showed up in the evening.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, January 4, 2016

Handicap parking misuse

Complement fines with education

The Disabled People's Association (DPA) welcomes the stronger penalties for drivers caught misusing handicap parking spaces ("Fines up for disabled parking misuse"; Monday).

This is a timely effort, considering the recent spate of events involving the misuse of these parking spaces ("Cab leaves no room for wheelchair user"; Jan 5). But imposing higher fines may not be enough to deter offenders and would-be offenders.

More public education needs to be carried out to explain why access to handicap parking spaces is strictly restricted to people with disabilities.

In busy areas such as shopping malls, where parking spaces are limited, some drivers may think it is acceptable to park in a handicap parking space, and they will continue to believe that, unless some effort is made to explain the need for such restrictions.

The fines should continue to be complemented with public education to help address the need to change behaviour over time.

In particular, the DPA urges private carparks, such as those in shopping centres, to educate the public and their own staff about the proper use of facilities for disabled people and the need to properly implement any penalties the management has for the misuse of those spaces.

Would more education help to deter people from misusing handicap parking spaces? How else can drivers be discouraged...
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The parking space for people with disabilities at Cluny Court is repeatedly used by people without the appropriate parking label. The carpark staff even tell drivers to park there when there are no other parking spaces available.

Such cases are not isolated to this shopping centre, but it does illustrate how poor commitment to implementing the proper use of the handicap parking spaces undercuts the point of having those spaces in the first place.

Stronger penalties help spread public awareness that such conduct is not just socially unacceptable, but is also against the law.

Yet, without proper implementation, people will continue to believe that the misuse of parking spaces for people with disabilities is something that they can easily get away with.

These reserved parking spaces are not about giving special privileges to a group of people. People with disabilities have no other choice but to park in these designated spaces, as the wider spaces are needed for them to get in and out of their cars.

This parking issue has a wider significance in Singapore's journey towards an inclusive society.

I urge members of the public to report the misuse of these spaces to the management of carparks and follow up with them in properly penalising the misuse.

Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills (Dr)
Executive Director
Disabled People's Association
ST Forum, 20 Jan 2016

Do your part to create a more inclusive society by leaving accessible parking lots for those who truly need them. By...
Posted by NCSS Singapore on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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