Advocate hits out at continued abuse of disability car parks

Sonia Thursby, chief executive of Yes Disability Resource Centre in Albany, is annoyed with people who abuse the ...
DENISE PIPER/FAIRFAX NZ

Sonia Thursby, chief executive of Yes Disability Resource Centre in Albany, is annoyed with people who abuse the accessible car parks outside her centre.

A disability advocate is calling for tougher consequences for drivers illegally using accessible car parks, after a survey finds the practice is rife.

The national survey by CCS Disability Action found a third (31 per cent) of those parking in the 360 accessible car parks monitored had no permit to do so.

There was virtually no improvement from when the survey was first done 10 years ago, when 35 per cent had no permit.

In a related interview, 17 per cent of respondents (74 people) admitted to incorrectly parking in an accessible spot.

READ MORE: Mobility parking campaigns having zero impact

Sonia Thursby, chief executive of Yes Disability Resource Centre in Albany on Auckland's North Shore, says her observation is the abuse of accessible car parks is certainly a problem on the Shore. 

It even occurs right outside the centre, which is in a Lion Foundation house for a range of disability services on William Laurie Place. Places like nearby Albany Mall are not too bad, she says.

The worst abusers are courier drivers, plus people who are quickly visiting the likes of the post office or doctors' surgery, Thursby says.

"People think it's okay because they're just popping in and they're only going to be a few minutes."

But a few minutes of illegal parking can turn into a great inconvenience for people with disabilities, Thursby says.

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If they have to park in a different car park, it could take them 10 minutes to cover even a short distance, she says.

"For someone with a disability, it's taken you an hour to get out of your house and you've only got to go to the post office. It could take 10 minutes to get out of the car, 10 minutes to get to the post office.

"If someone's taken your park, it's not okay."

Thursby believes technology should be used to catch and fine abusers.

In the CCS Disability Action survey, just three per cent of illegal parkers were ticketed.

The way forward could be the likes of in-ground electronic sensors, made by Australian company Smart Parking, which could identify drivers with disabilities through a sensor in their car.

"Towing away deals with the long-term parking but not those who are only there five or 10 minutes: there's no deterrent," Thursby says.

The fine for illegally parking in an area reserved for disabled people is $150.

 - Stuff

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