Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Snapped: Drivers who abuse disabled parks

Visitors to the page have posted scores of photos of buses, delivery trucks, courier vans, luxury vehicles and police and other cars, with the time and location details. Photos / Supplied
Visitors to the page have posted scores of photos of buses, delivery trucks, courier vans, luxury vehicles and police and other cars, with the time and location details. Photos / Supplied

Police cars, delivery trucks and a Lamborghini owner who "didn't want to get a scratch on his door" are among more than 100 drivers being publicly shamed for parking in mobility spaces without a permit.

A Facebook page entitled You've got my car park, want my disability too? has so far published photos and information about more than 100 vehicles and drivers caught in the carparks throughout the country.

It was started by a fed-up Waikato wheelchair user who was late for a job interview because non-permitted cars were using the disability spot.

The man, who wants to be known as "M", hopes the page - which late yesterday had close to 4000 "likes" - will change people's attitudes.

"It's bringing awareness to the mobility parking scheme and to the people who abuse them. Hopefully councils and governments can implement strategies to help fight these parks being abused e.g. higher fines, towing, making it a driving offence to park in one etc."

Visitors to the page have posted scores of photos of buses, delivery trucks, courier vans, luxury vehicles and police and other cars, with the time and location details.

A photo of a bright orange Lamborghini outside an Albany gym had close to 100 comments about the driver, who reportedly told gym staff he parked there because "he didn't want to get a scratch on his door".

Other visitors to the page shared their experiences of missing out on parking spaces, and sometimes being abused by offending drivers.

Disability advocate groups said they were not surprised at the level of frustration because abuse of the parks was so common.

CCS Disability Action chief executive David Matthews said misusing them made Kiwis look selfish.

"It's all about wanting a level playing field and a fairer world for everyone, and it is a challenge to get people not to abuse the car parks ..."

Disabled Peoples Assembly chief Rachel Noble said the Facebook page drew attention to an important issue.

"Those who illegally use the parks are hampering another person's freedom and independence. If all drivers demonstrated respect for those with mobility parking permits, there would not be a need to go through the naming-and-shaming activity."

Non-permitted vehicles faced a $150 fine under a law enforced by councils. Private carparks are required to have a set ratio of mobility parking spaces to regular ones, but these are governed at the provider's discretion.

More than 100,000 mobility parking permits are held by New Zealanders. They cost $35 to $50 for short- or long-term permits and are valid for up to five years.

Disability Support Network chief Clare Teague said if the penalties were harsher, the problem might diminish.

"This is a very important issue in terms of ensuring that disabled people can have an ordinary life in the community. The penalties are far too low compared to other countries. Increased penalties would reflect the social harm associated with this issue."

In Australia, the fines are about $600, and in Canada close to $1000.

Drivers who abuse disabled parks

Mobility parking in New Zealand

* The mobility parking permit scheme provides permits for more than 100,000 Kiwis and is managed in partnership between:

* CCS Disability Action - manages and issues permits, and advocates to improve the scheme

* Doctors or GPs - assess people to determine their eligibility

* Local councils - provide and monitor on-road parking spaces

* New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) - legislation around parking requirements and fines.

- NZ Herald

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