Should drivers who park in disability spots lose their licences?


Brisbane 4000

A Brisbane woman believes the key to preventing people parking in allocated disability parks is to threaten to take their licences.

Key points

  • The Queensland Government is considering increasing fines as part of a review of the disability parking scheme
  • A disability advocate says bigger fines aren’t enough to discourage drivers from doing the wrong thing
  • She is also pushing for the vision impaired to be eligible to apply for a disability parking permit

Elisha Wright, the founder of disability advocacy group No Permit, No Park, is campaigning to have the laws changed when it comes to people parking in disability spots.

Ms Wright said she decided to take action after repeatedly being unable to park in dedicated areas.

“Over the years when our campaign was visible we did see a reduction as we were working with police,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Rebecca Levingston.

“But since my focus has been on wider disability issues, we’ve seen an increase again in the behaviour and a decrease in fines.”

Government considers doubling fines

The Queensland Government announced in November that drafted changes to the Disability Parking Permit Scheme would be reviewed in 2020.

The Government has recently spoken to stakeholders, including Ms Wright, about what should be implemented.

One of the proposed changes is doubling the fine for illegally parking in a disabled spot from $266 to $522.

Ms Wright believes fines are not the only solution.

“We have increased the fine before, from $44 to $220, and at that time the infringements almost doubled — so we need to see more done on the penalty itself,” she said.

“People who are currently vision impaired are exempt from being able to apply for a permit, but this bill should make them eligible to apply.”

If it is made, that change would bring Queensland into line with New South Wales and the ACT, which currently include legal blindness as a criteria in their permit schemes.

Loss of licence a deterrent

Ms Wright said a number of global studies had shown that traffic offences are more likely to not occur if there is the risk of incurring demerit points.



Photo:

Council officers could take the pressure off police by being allowed to issue fines. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

“People are deterred by demerit points as they don’t want to lose their license,” she said.

“Fines people can pay off over time.”

She hoped that a change in visible enforcement is also considered by having council officers issuing fines.

“We don’t need the police to waste their valuable time chasing up parking infringements constantly,” Ms Wright said.

“Council officers are currently not allowed to go into shopping centre carparks it would be good to have their presence there.”

Under Queensland Road Rules Act, only police officers are authorized to monitor and issue infringements in shopping centre areas.

“Council need to seek permission from the shopping centre owner,” Ms Wright said.

“And not all shopping centre owners will give council permission to patrol.”

Your thoughts on different fines

Callers to ABC Radio Brisbane had mixed opinions on what fines should be issued.

“Make it a form of community service, they should care for someone in a wheelchair. I looked after my mum a few years ago and I can tell you it’s hard to find parking spaces — it would make them realise how tough it is.” – Gary from Woody Point

“I’m a retired nurse and many people tell us it takes too much trouble to get the sticker for your car.” – Robyn from Wynnum West

“I think more parking should be halved between pram parking and disability parking.” – Dianna from Brisbane

“As a disabled person I get frustrated with the people taking the spaces. I think everyone that has a disability sticker on their car should have their photo on their notice.” – Pam from Geebung

“I think we should clamp their wheels like they do in the UK.” – Lawrie from Caboolture

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news



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