Should Wheelchair Users Get Priority Over Disabled Parking Spaces?

Disabled parking spaces play a central role in providing maximum inclusive mobility for disabled people in America. Millions of people rely on disabled parking spaces that enable them to access the amenities and facilities of every jurisdiction in the country.

Important nuances exist in the disabled parking program – as they must, because different people, as well as different regions of the country, have very different situations and needs. For instance, a wide array of quite different disabilities qualify a person to hold a disabled parking permit. There are also big differences between large cities and more rural areas when it comes to infrastructure and available space.

Disabled parking programs around the country must take these differences into account. But what’s the story when it comes to who gets priority in handicap parking?

Disabled Parking - wheelchair only parking
Image by emkanicepic on Pixabay: Should wheelchair users get priority over handicap parking?

Disabled Parking For Wheelchair Users

Wheelchair users often find it especially challenging to negotiate their way around. They also face increased difficulties when entering and exiting a vehicle, often requiring the use of a lift or ramp. For these reasons, many people believe wheelchair users should get priority over disabled parking spaces.

Should Wheelchair Users Get Priority Over Handicap Parking Spaces?

Whether or not wheelchair users should get priority over disabled spaces is a hotly contested debate. Some argue it is fair and proper, given the increased challenges wheelchair users face. Others argue that giving wheelchair users any type of priority is discriminatory towards people who are disabled but do not use a wheelchair.

Is There A Shortage Of Accessible Parking Spaces For Disabled Drivers?

Despite the fact that great improvements have been made in America’s disabled parking program in recent years, disabled drivers still often have difficulty finding empty disabled parking spaces. In some areas of the country, finding available accessible spaces is a constant battle, especially for wheelchair users.

Is Disabled Parking Regulated By Federal Law?

Disabled parking in America is regulated by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA regulates many areas of the disabled parking program, including the mandatory number of disabled spaces in parking lots, dimensions of disabled spaces, and positioning of disabled spaces inside parking lots.

Do Different States Have Different Disabled Parking Rules?

Yes. Nuances of the program – for example, qualifying conditions and whether wheelchair users get priority – are left at the discretion of individual states.

Disabled Parking - USA
Image by ErikaWittlieb on Pixabay: Some specific disabled parking rules vary state by state.

How Many Types Of Disabled Parking Spaces Are There?

There are three types of disabled parking space:

  • Accessible parking spaces for cars
  • Accessible parking spaces for vans (one-sided entry)
  • Accessible parking spaces for vans (two-sided entry)

How Many Disabled Spaces Must A Parking Lot Have?

Parking lots must have a certain number of disabled spaces, relative to the total amount of spaces in the lot.

Lots with 1–25 spaces must have at least one accessible parking space for vans. The number then increases in line with the capacity of the lot in question. Parking lots with 501–1000 spaces must contain at least 2% disabled spaces, with at least 2–4 accessible to vans.

Who Gets Priority In Handicap Parking Currently?

In most states, all disabled permit holders have equal rights to use any type of disabled parking space. In these states, the type of permit a person holds and the manner of disability they have is irrelevant. But in a minority of states, including California, Oregon, and Arizona, certain disabled spaces are designated ‘wheelchair only’.

What Are The Current Rules And Regulations About Wheelchair-Only Parking Spaces?

The exact rules and regulations about wheelchair-only parking spaces differ slightly between the states that have them. Some general rules are:

  • They are always reserved for disabled permit holders who use a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
  • They have a striped access aisle on one or both sides of the space, measuring at least 96 inches wide.
  • They are marked with the International Symbol of Access.
  • Sometimes they will be labeled “Wheelchair Only”.
  • In certain states, they can only be used by holders of a specific “wheelchair user” disabled permit. In other states, there is no specific wheelchair permit, but only wheelchair users may use spaces with an access aisle.

Can Handicap Parking Spaces Be Assigned?

Yes, it is possible to get a handicap parking space assigned to you in the parking lot of your place of work. It is also possible to get an accessible space assigned in your residence carpark or on the street near your home.

How Do You Report Handicap Parking Violators?

Reporting handicap parking violators, whether they are permit-holders or non-permit holders, can be done by taking note of the violator’s registration number and contacting your local DMV. Most DMVs have a department that specializes in dealing with disabled parking violations, and stiff fines will usually be meted out to offenders.

Featured image by Jung Ho Park on Unsplash