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Common Handicap Parking Misconceptions

With “National Mobility Awareness Month” having just concluded in May, now is the perfect time to clear up some of the most common misconceptions surrounding handicap parking practices.

Surveys have shown that 74% of people have personally witnessed a handicap parking space being used improperly. Therefore, it is important for everyone to understand some key elements associated with handicap parking. As you can imagine, there are many who still do not have a basic understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding handicap accessible parking. Here are some of the most common misconceptions explained!

#1: All Handicap Accessible Parking Spaces are the Same.

Not all handicap accessible parking spaces are the same. The spaces with the striped lines directly next to a standard handicap accessible parking spot are typically marked with an “Accessible Vans” sign. These spots are wider than the standard handicap parking spaces, which are often used by people with disabilities that are not driving wheelchair accessible vehicles. The extra space allows for a wheelchair vehicle ramp to deploy from the van or SUV, or for people that need extra space to access and transfer to their wheelchair.

It is a common misconception that all handicap accessible parking spaces are for people who “physically need them” – i.e., appear to the naked eye to need the spaces. In fact, there are a wide variety of “hidden disabilities” that many people do not realize merit use of handicap accessible parking spaces. Even if there is no visible sign of a disability or need for a mobility device, it does not necessarily mean that someone is misusing a parking space.

#2: I Can Park in a Striped Area Next to a Handicap Accessible Parking Space.

Building on the last point, the striped lines directly beside handicap accessible parking spaces have a very specific purpose and should not be parked in. Some people think it is better to park in these spots in a pinch rather than a handicap accessible space, when in reality, utilizing either can cause accessibility issues for those with disabilities. Some people may even believe these spaces are perfect for parking motorcycles, golf carts, or other small vehicles. However, these should be left for those who truly need them.

In fact, these striped areas are not spaces at all. These areas are there to provide the extra room needed by individuals in wheelchairs to safely enter and exit their vehicle. This area is needed because the ramp that deploy from inside their vehicle extend outward approx. 5 feet. Without this additional room, users would not have the space needed to navigate up or down their ramp. Therefore, when you park in or partially in these spaces, you take away the valuable room needed for someone to enter or exit their vehicle.

Oh, one last thing… In addition to causing convenience issues for people with disabilities, parking in these spots can also have major consequences for the offenders. In most locations, obstructing & parking illegally in a handicap zone carries a fine of at least $500 and/or jail time (source).
lady coming down wheelchair ram with a car blocking her exit

#3: You are Only Allowed to Use a Disabled Placard in One Car.

This is both true and false. It is true that disabled license plates cannot be transferred between vehicles, just like any other license plate. However, the handicap placards that hang from the rearview mirror can be used in any vehicle that the person who is issued the placard is currently riding. The person does not have to be driving the vehicle for the use of the placard to be used legally.


Now, with that said, it is prohibited to let other individuals use a placard that is not issued to them. Placards are allotted to a single person, and misuse can have major consequences. Stiffer penalties are now being imposed across the country, and many states are taking a closer look at monitoring methods for proper use, to ensure accessibility to all.

About Us:

Superior Van & Mobility, is a proud member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealer Association (NMEDA). We are also accredited by NMEDA and a participant in their Quality Assurance Program (QAP). QAP is a recognition reserved for only the highest-rated mobility dealers with the BEST customer experience in the Nation. To learn more about Superior Van & Mobility, or our adaptive solutions for cars, trucks, vans and SUVs, please visit www.SuperiorVan.com today.

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