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America Has a Problem of Abusing Handicap Parking Spots

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Handicap-designated parking spaces are still a relatively new requirement in the United States, having been officially mandated only a handful of decades ago, so the system is still encountering “wrinkles” as it’s enforced and obeyed. Unfortunately, this measure to ensure that those with disabilities can easily access buildings leaves a lot of opportunities for misuse and exploitation, which has resulted in widespread abuse of handicap parking spaces — particularly in the United States.

How and why do people take advantage of reserved parking spaces, and why isn’t more being done about it?

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Stopping rampant handicap parking violations

The 2017 Volvo XC90 comes standard with a four-cylinder motor, which is both supercharged and turbochargedStatistically, you probably know someone who has broken handicap parking regulations for their own benefit. According to research studies, the number of placards being distributed each year in the USA has more than doubled in the past decade, as have the cases of disability parking fraud. Some data even shows that there may be as many fraudulent uses of placards as legitimate ones.

The most common methods of abuse of disabled parking spaces involve a non-disabled driver using the permit of a disabled acquaintance who isn’t present,  illegally purchasing a placard, or forging a physician’s signature to obtain a placard. The trouble with this widespread tendency is that people who legitimately need special parking aren’t getting it because of abuse of the system, thus undermining any benefits of having reserved parking spaces.

So, why isn’t there more being done to combat this epidemic?

The issue of misusing handicap parking spaces — and catching people who do — is a lot more complicated than people realize. For instance, not all doctors understand what conditions qualify someone for a special parking permit and can allot them to those who shouldn’t receive them — even if the recipient doesn’t realize it. Plus, medical privacy laws make it difficult to confirm if someone applying for a parking placard is truly eligible. Asking for proof of disability in any situation could be discrimination, even if it’s done so to reduce fraud for people’s benefit.

Widespread misuse of reserved parking spaces and commonly fraudulent placards have resulted in “vigilante” citizens confronting drivers who they think are fraudulent, only to find out that many “invisible” disabilities qualify for special parking permits.

Ultimately, the problem of misusing handicap parking spaces can only be solved through everyone’s personal efforts to perform the research and introspective reflections to determine if they truly qualify for special parking spaces.

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Sources: NPR, Los Angeles Times