Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Should people who steal handicap parking spots be shamed on Facebook?


Park in a spot in New Zealand reserved for the disabled without displaying the permit and you risk being shamed on the Facebook page You've Got My Car Park, Want My Disability Too? So far, contributors have posted 100 photos of vehicles without proper redentials—license plates visible and in some cases the drivers as well. Started by a disgruntled wheelchair user who, reportedly, was late for a job interview because a non-permitted car was in the handicap spot, the page has been racking up Likes.

The problem is rampant here too. Last holiday season, Illinois cracked down on on people illegally parked in disability spots at malls; police handed out 166 citations and raked in $71,250 in fines. In January, New Jersey enacted a bill to prevent the misuse of disability vehicle ID cards and placards. Washington state and municipalities around the country have had similar crackdowns.

I'd like to see more of these ethics-deprived people get fined—hit 'em where it really hurts, their wallets. An app called Parking Mobility allows people to snap photos of a vehicle parked in a handicap spot without a proper plate or decal, and zap it to city officials to issue a ticket. First, however, your city needs to get with the program.

This is all easy for me to say because I'm not the victim here, nor do I deal with this situation with Max. I get how satisfying it could feel to out people who disrespect disability. There have been times when I've been tempted to snap iPhone pictures of people who openly gawk or glare at Max and post them on Facebook.

So far, a few offenders listed on that Facebook page have apologized, though most probably have no clue they've been exposed. It seems like the best possible result of this effort is that it will raise media and public awareness, forcing authorities to pay more attention to the problem and getting people to think twice about swiping these spots (excellent video, below).

What do you think about Facebook shaming people who park in spots for people with disabilities?



Image: Flickr/Sam Felder

34 comments:

  1. I understand where this is coming from, being at the receiving end of couldn't-care-less drivers. But where's the shaming? If your image is on a website and neither you nor onyone you know actually sees it, where's the shame? Impose giant fines or even better impound the car. That would make them think twice.

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  2. While awareness needs to be increased, and some form of on-the-spot shaming would be appropriate (ticketing, policeman meeting you at your car, etc.), I'm not sure that Facebook would be the best venue. Recent history has shown that cyberbullying can be very malicious. There is a mob mentality of shaming (and propagating to others) that could quickly allow this to get out of control. The result could be that a person who makes a lapse in judgment they don't normally make could end up getting hate mail, slanderous posts around the Internet, etc. Not everyone would go at this with the purest of intents.

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  3. I disagree with "Anonymous." 99% of the time, those who park in spots for the disabled do not have a one-time "lapse in judgment," but rather, are chronic offenders. Any method to get them to stop, whether it's via Facebook or imposing heavy fines, works for me.

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  4. I love the idea. My brother does use a handicap space, and it gets SO annoying when people steal them. This is a great idea, and I think it'll teach people a lesson. :) *I know, I'm such a mean person*

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  5. I think that app is awesome! I didn't know it existed, but I feel like that would be more of a consequence than facebook. Because, as another person mentioned, what's the point if the offender doesn't even know their photo was posted? And plus, when we are hit where it hurts (our wallets) we think twice, right? :)

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  6. Fair enough Cory. I can go along with people who park wrongly in parking spots being idiots 100% of the time. My main concern was that cyber punishment could become dangerous, not just embarassing. It sometimes snowballs so quickly.

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  7. ...and I agree. That app sounds like a great solution. Gets the information to where something can be done about it!

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  8. I contacted Parking Mobility and although it's a great program they indicated it's expensive for my city and unless the city raises it's fines for the offense it wouldn't be worth it to them. So, now it's figuring out how that process works. Biggest thing that fries me is the one spot outside my daughters gymnastics studio. Parents use it as a drop off, pick up. Even when I have my son in the car who's in a wheelchair, I don't use it to pick up or drop off. If I'm not getting him out of the car I use another spot. I know the parents are thinking "no one who's disabled does gymnastics". I confront people often and get responses like "what business is it of yours", " oh do you need it", "there were no other spots" (see my arm waving at this point showing them the spots further away). What I usually do is snap a pic on my phone and tell them I'm going to send it to the police. I also point out what a great role model they are being to their kids about how to be respectful of people with disabilities. Maybe those things will get them to think twice next time.

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  9. I'm coming from the perspective of someone who's never had to utilize a handicapped parking spot and I completely support this. I remember a few years ago when my former coworker was fined (a lot--we live in WA) for parking in a reserved spot while running a quick in-and-out errand. He was furious about the fine and when he came back to the office, he received no sympathy from us. He was just being lazy about walking from a further back spot, and after a few months finally admitted he was wrong to park there. I can't believe it took him several months to admit it was wrong and definitely would be on board a public awareness Facebook post--I think there are definitely measures to keep such a sight from being about bullying, especially if it had a "Curious about why you got such a huge fine?" educational aspect.

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  10. This is something that I have experienced over the years, but I don't think a social media venue is the right one. Even in my own family, because I'm still walking (short distances) with Loftstrands (which I understand is not too common for adults with my level of CP function) the thought is that I often don't need the parking spots as much as someone else. And, that may be true, especially if I am in my wheelchair. Like Julie, we don't use a spot unless I am getting out of the car. Still, I think a polite confrontation, if the opportunity allows, will make a point more than social media. Also, most people really don't have a clue... a) that they could be fined $500 (in Ohio) and b) it really is difficult for me to walk from a distance away.

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  11. I have a pass that I use for my son and know how frustrating it is when there aren't available spots. What actually drives me crazy is when people park in the HC spots but stay in the car. I feel that they can drop off whomever at the entrance and then drive back to get them. With that said I don't agree with shaming anyone on FB, to me it's a form of bullying. Yes, what they did was wrong but I don't think anyone deserves to be publicly harassed because that is exactly what would happen, people will take it too far. I think reporting it to the police or security and handling it privately is a better solution. And like others have said hit them where it hurts, huge fines!!!!! I

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  12. This idea makes me laugh I think people should be penalized God knows my life becomes more difficult when people steal wheelchair parking.

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  13. We had a handicapped placard for the 1st two years of S's illness. He's better now so we don't need it anymore. There were plenty of times when I had to park clear out in the lot with him, because people were illegally parked in the handicapped spots. Trying to keep both hands on a 65 lb octopus of a kid, who was only partially mobile was crazy. Also when we did park in a handicapped spot, people would sometimes question whether we needed it. I would sometimes introduce them to my son, and sometimes tell them to bugger off. I still have a really hard time with people using those spots illegally.

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  14. Not sure how I feel about the shaming on social media thing. But I do get very frustrated when those who don't need them take the handicap spots and something clearly needs to change. I have to lift my child who is 75 lbs out of the car and into his chair. There is rarely room to do this in a reg parking spot. Whats interesting is even though I have a placard clearly hanging in my car and my little one sitting in the front seat attached to oxygen I get funny looks when I pull into a spot. I have a small car so people assume I don't really need the spot. I get looks and glares when I jump out of the car, that is until I pop the trunk and pull out the chair and set it up. Then when they see me lift my child out of the car the look on their face generally changes to shock,lol(I am under 5ft), as they walk away.

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  15. This topic came up on among my facebook friends because of a message I wrote right after we received a diagnosis. You can read that message here:
    http://iloveyoutoeternity.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-early-days-after-receiving-official.html
    Ellen, I wonder how you feel about the misuse if accesible bathroom stalls vs accesible parking spots. I asked my friends this question and most of them responded it is ok for abled bodies to use the bigger stall just for the extra legroom.

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    1. The bigger stall also has a seat attached to the wall for tots a lot of times which the others don't. Good point though.

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    2. Before I had Max, I'd dash into the accessible bathroom stalls if there was a long line and no person in sight who seemingly needed them. After I had Max, I quit doing that because it just no longer seemed OK, although if I bring him into a bathroom with me I have occasionally still used them so I have more room to maneuver and help him with his pants.

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  16. Meh. Not a fan. I'm often been shamed when I use a handicapped stall when I am transporting Knox. It doesn't matter that he's a quadriplegic, or in a chair. People see ME, relatively healthy (even if I am stooped over half the time because of back pain) and they get indignant about me using a stall for my CHILD. Because he isn't DRIVING. It doesn't matter that a regular stall doesn't provide enough room to put a chair beside a vehicle and open the doors of my car wide enough to get Knox out without hurting him. It only matters that I'm able bodied, using a stall for a KID. Social media shaming would just add yet another charming element of fun to our already difficult enough lives.

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    1. Tanis, I'm sorry (and mad!) you've had to deal with that. Until you said it, I hadn't considered the potential for shaming parents who are transporting kids with disabilities.

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    2. I get looks ALL the time. Especially since Hunter is starting to get out of the car by himself (albeit slowly). But with his gait speed, it's just safer to get him to the door as quickly as possible. So no, I don't need it (I have marathon stickers on my car, I'm sure people LOVE that), but my son DOES need it. For his safety and his ability to make it ALL the way to the door without falling in front of crazy drivers texting in the parking lot... I have forgotten to put my pass up before so I'm sure I'm on a blog role somewhere. But I do agree on ticketing/fining. Repercussion is [sadly] the only way people will change.

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  17. It drives me crazy when someone parks in a handicap and/or a children/mother to be parking spot and they are neither. I call it LAZY! And if someone does that, then they can pay the price if they are caught let it be a ticket or being exposed in the media. I'd love to see drivers who are texting exposed!

    Melissa (children's writer and illustrator)
    http://www.notyourordinarypsychicmom.com
    http://www.melissaproductions.com

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  18. Yes. The spots are reserved for certain people and should only be used by that group of people.

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  19. I totally agree that it is wrong for those who do not have a placard to use the handicapped stalls. I'm undecided on publicly shaming them though. However, my father in law repeatedly forgets to put his hanger on his mirror even though he parks in the reserved spots (and has a real need to use the spot). We're working on getting him a license plate, but he has paid several fines when he truly belonged. I'm absolutely against those illegally parking and taking a spot away from someone who needs it, but I think we should be careful when making judgment calls.

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  20. I live in NZ and know the person who runs the page... they will be very happy to know news of their page has spread to the US, lol. Facebook is a great tool for naming and shaming all sorts of people. If it works, do it I say.

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  21. I am not for public shaming, but I am for the police cracking down and ticketing. I mean, why do they give tickets to people going 5 miles over the speed limit, but never (it seems) to people misusing handicap parking spots? I use our placard for my son, who is in a wheelchair. The extra space helps me to maneuver him in and out of the van and chair. But I sometimes get dirty looks if I am picking my son up from somewhere, or dropping him off, as it may seem as if I am using the spot inappropriately (when I am seen without him). I NEVER use a spot unless my son is getting in or out of the van. I hate it when people park in front of the grocery store with their grandma, and run in to shop while their grandmother sits in the car waiting. TICKET THEM!

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  22. Public shaming is a bad idea, I think. Especially on the internet. We've seen too many times how that can go wrong.

    Handicapped bathroom stalls seem like a totally different issue. To park in a handicapped parking spot, you are legally required to have a permit. For handicapped bathrooms, that's not true at all.

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    1. I have to agree with Sophie bathrooms and parking spaces are two totally different things. While I won't get into the differences between how women and men used public bathroom, I can say a toilet is used for a few seconds a parking space can be used for a few hours. If there's a line to go to the bathroom you can bet all stalls will be used by anyone. If one abled-bodied person doesn't use the stall, you bet the next person will. I don't want to have a fight over a bathroom stall. I will have the fight over a parking space

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  23. Uuggh....seriously? Shame on Facebook? I guess whoever is posting the photo and ranting about it is the one that is going to feel justified, get tons of folks commenting and validating their perceived injustice. The offender probably will never see or know about it. Seems childish to me! The police should be writing more tickets for this violation instead of hiding behind signs & overpasses to catch folks speeding!!

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  24. Accessible restroom stalls are NOT reserved for people with disabilities. They are a part if the total plumbing count for the facility and are expected to be used by anyone. Family restrooms at large airports and stadiums are also expected to be used by families, not just people with disabilities. husband was yelled at for taking my daughter in one to change her diaper at an airport.

    I am an architect and well versed in building codes.

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    1. obviously you're not disabled! I'm in a electric wheelchair, try living my life. You might be book smart, but you just don't get it!

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  25. I was once parked in a van accessible spot at a grocery store. We did our shopping, came back out with my son in his wheelchair and there was a truck parked right next to our van taking up the space (the hash marked spot that is NOT for parking) that was needed to deploy our van's ramp. I was stuck, standing there with my son waiting furiously. The man finally returned to his truck and only said, "I was just picking up a few things." I was so stunned that he did not even APOLOGIZE, I said not a word as I stood there fuming. At least taking a picture and posting it would be a proactive thing to do when people's utter selfishness leave you speechless.

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  26. I think we can definitely use Facebook as a tool to bring awareness to the issue. I don't like the idea of shaming people though. I have a child who is in a wheelchair and I find it very frustrating the number of people who have accessible tags who don't seem to need them. I think people find ways to abuse them and doctors give them out to easily. I think there should also be a step down program. People using wheelchairs, canes or walkers should get the main spots and all others with tags should have secondary spots. I also think the criteria should be a little stricter. My MIL broke her hip and had one and she did need it for a while but now that she is healed she still has one. She can walk fine. She often takes spots that are needed for accessible vans. The system needs to be redone. Just my rant..

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  27. This is stupid. My dad is disabled and he doesn't care if people take his spot. If there was no other spot available and he had to park far away then he calls the cops, and they get a ticket and have to pay tons of money. That's more than enough for punishment. Shaming them is just unnecessary. What about those people who are disabled, whose permits fall off their dash? That's happened to my dad before, and he got a ticket....which is okay because he just proved that he really did have the permit in court and they removed it. But what if he got shamed for that, how would that get remedied?

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  28. What about people who have problems walking, don't fit the definition of disabled and have to walk past empty handicap parking spots to get into a store?

    What about at 10:00 p.m. at night, when the parking lot is empty and the closest spots to the door are the handicapped spots? Why can't someone park there for safety especially if there are 5 other handicap spaces available

    Why is it that handicap parking does not require paying for parking in the city of Chicago? Many disabled people can afford to pay the fee?

    I'm all for handicap parking being reserved for people who have a disability, BUT as the baby boomers age, EVERY Baby Boomer has a disability, pain, trouble moving. I have trouble walking. When I do have the pain, I can barely walk. I have not requested a placard from my doctor because I can still walk somewhat. If you looked at me you would say that she's just lazy if I parked in a handicap spot. No, I have real pain and the ex-rays to prove it.

    So, why can't I use a EMPTY parking space, whether for disabled or pregnant mothers, without being ticketed or require a placard?

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Thanks for sharing!