Handicap parking spaces are reserved for individuals with disabilities. As a responsible driver, you should follow all rules and regulations concerning these specially reserved parking spaces.
Handicap parking, sometimes also referred to as parking for people with disabilities helps give such individuals better access to services and goods. In the United States, it is mandatory by law for all parking lots to have a certain number of spaces designated as handicap parking. Owners of businesses and commercial spaces who do not provide such parking spaces can be fined. The rules for handicap parking spaces must be adhered to as per the guidelines laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These parking spaces are located close to the entrance and exit of buildings, allowing faster and convenient access.
Rules and Regulations about Handicap Parking
To be able to park in a handicap parking, you must qualify for a driving permit for people with disabilities. These are usually conditions that affect your movement, and may be temporary or permanent in nature. The criteria vary from state to state. Passengers and drivers with the following disabilities/conditions may qualify for a handicap parking permit or license plate:
- Inability to walk long distances
- Blindness or visual shortcoming
- Certain cardiovascular conditions (as specified by the American Heart Association)
- Respiratory problems
- Any physical ailment that impairs mobility
- Use of wheelchair, crutches, or any assistive device
- Missing or maimed leg, foot, or hand
To obtain a handicap permit, individuals must present a proof of disability, which has been endorsed by a licensed medical doctor, along with a signed and duly filled-in application for a permit or placard and the required registration fees to your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Depending upon your disability, you will be issued either a temporary or permanent handicap license plate or parking permit or a parking placard that must hang down from the rear-view mirror. In most states, a blue placard signifies permanent disability, while a red placard denotes temporary disability.
Handicap Parking Space Features
- The number of handicap parking spaces a parking lot should have is laid down in the ADA guidelines. For example, in a lot with 25 spaces, at least one space should be allotted to handicap parking. A lot with 50 spaces should have a minimum of 2 handicap parking spaces, and so on. If the parking lot spaces number over 500, a minimum of 2% of the total spaces should be marked as handicap.
- As per the ADA, medical centers with outpatient facilities must allot 10% of the total parking spaces available as handicap parking, whereas centers which provide facilities for patients with mobility impairment must allot 20% of the parking lots for individuals with disabilities.
- These parking spaces must be located such that they provide the shortest access route to the entrance of the building.
- Handicap parking spaces adjacent to each other can share a common access path, which must be painted with crisscross lines to indicate that no vehicle can be parked there.
- Parking space reserved for handicapped people must be at least 96 inches wide with a vertical clearance of 98 inches. At least one handicap parking space in any parking lot should be van-accessible as per law, which provides easy access for vans with wheelchair ramps, with a 5-foot loading area. Van-accessible parking lots must display the van accessible sign prominently. The access route should be slip-resistant. It should not be steeply inclined and must not have any steps.
- Handicap parking spaces must be outlined with blue paint, and display the International Symbol of Accessibility in the center (a person in a wheelchair). A blue sign depicting Parking by Disabled Permit Only must be strategically placed in front of each handicap parking space, and must be displayed at a height that can be clearly spotted by drivers.
Violations of Handicap Parking
- Drivers who park in a handicap parking but do not possess the required permit or placard and do not display a handicap license plate, can be heavily fined. The fines differ from state to state.
- A driver who parked his vehicle in a handicap parking can also be fined, even though he displayed a placard or license plate, if the person with disabilities for whom the parking space is meant is not traveling in the vehicle.
- Standing or parking in the area marked with crisscross patterns that is meant to be the access path is also a violation of the law, and the driver may have to pay a fine as per the state regulations.
Follow the rules and regulations pertaining to handicap parking, so it becomes safer and easier for individuals with disabilities to travel and park their cars in public parking lots. As a responsible driver, it is our duty to respect and be considerate towards other fellow citizens.