Call for tougher penalties for drivers who park in disabled spots
Tuesday, 12th September, 2017
PEOPLE who illegally park in disabled spaces should lose demerit points, a disability advocate argued after a Queensland government official confirmed the issue of penalties was being discussed.
No Permit No Park founder Elisha Wright said a demerit point penalty could deter people from doing the wrong thing.
"We know that people are more deterred by the fear of losing their licence from demerit point losses than they are by paying a fine," she said.
Demerit point penalties should be considered in Queensland, Elisha Wright from No Permit No Park says.
In New South Wales, the fine for parking in a disabled car park without a permit is more than $500 and attracts a demerit point penalty, which contributes towards licence suspension.
Ms Wright said there was a lot of positive feedback from NSW, where improvements had been noticed.
She said the number of fines being issued by Queensland police for the offence more than doubled to 1940 between 2011-12 and 2014-15, following the 2013 launch of the No Permit No Park campaign, with police supporting enforcement.
But people were still parking in disability spots, with community members sending Ms Wright 40 to 50 photos per month of offences.
"I don't think the incidents have reduced at all because we're still seeing it all the time," she said.
Ms Wright said disability parking spaces were vital for permit holders to have access to their community.
"Particularly for people who use mobility devices, like wheelchairs, they need that access," she said.
"They need more space at the side of the vehicle to get in and out; the space needs to have adequate access to the pathway to the entrance.
"It's about getting the community to understand that it's not a perk, it's a necessity and when they use those spaces it sends a message to the community that it's not important for people with disabilities to have that access.
"It continues to create that exclusion that we're constantly battling."
At a recent, unrelated, parliamentary committee hearing, Transport and Main Roads transport regulation general manager John Wroblewski confirmed the issue of disability parking was on the agenda.
"We are also having discussions about whether those penalties [for parking in disabled parking bays] are still appropriate and whether we should raise them further and how we do that," Mr Wroblewski said.
"We accept it's an issue."
In 2013, the Newman government increased the fines police could issue from two-fifths of a penalty unit to two penalty units - up from $44 to $220 - to better align with some councils.
The Queensland police and Brisbane City Council fines are now both $252.
Police can issue fines in a range of areas, including in privately-owned car parks, while council parking inspectors enforce the rules on roads and parking spaces administered by the council.
But a Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said there were no current plans to increase the penalties.
"We regularly review our penalties to ensure the fine appropriately reflects the seriousness of the offence," the spokeswoman said.