Opinion contributed by Carolyn Schwebel |
I am strongly against the two current bills mentioned in the media that would expand accessible parking permits to new groups.
As the current rules make clear, the accessible spaces are needed for individuals with physical conditions who need closest parking to get to stores, restaurants, medical facilities. The spaces are crucial for wheelchair-using people, who need the wider access aisles that are part of the accessible parking places to drop down their van ramps and have room to turn off the ramp.
The bills have not been thought out and are “feel good” bills, written without understanding of the issues I am describing. There is no need for those with PTSD, autistic people or caregivers of disabled people to receive the placards. Instead of the caregivers, the placard must be issued to the one who needs it, as is current law. The placard can go with that person to the driver’s vehicle while the disabled person is in the vehicle. It would be tempting for caregivers to park in the spaces even when they are not transporting a person with a disability.
PTSD does not require an accessible space. If the veteran has a physical disability, he or she can get a permit based on that fact. The same is true for people with autism.
Please remember the legal requirement under the New Jersey and federal law, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to provide parking for those with physical needs that prevent them from accessing places without those essential parking spaces.
We need much better enforcement of the mandated fines of $250 for first offenses. Towing is also a legal punishment. Police should check that a disabled person with a required “disabled person’s ID” card is using the space. If he or she loans the placard to someone not eligible, the placard can be confiscated!
As with spots set aside for pregnant drivers, a second tier for the proposed classes could be provided as a courtesy, but not in the legally reserved spaces under our current accessible parking laws.
All legislators should read the excellent N.J. Guide to Accessible Parking and refuse to pass the proposed laws.
Equalizers, “Advocates for People with Disabilities”
This article was first published in the April 5-12, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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