By Giorgina McKay
Stronger accessible parking penalties will soon be implemented by the South Australian Government.
The proposal was introduced by the Dignity for Disability party of South Australia.
“This is very much a safety thing and we need to send that message,” Kelly Vincent, Dignity for Disability MLC, said.
“That’s why I think a demerit point on top of the fine is a good place to start,” she added.
Presently, the fine for the incorrect use of an accessible parking space is 345 dollars.
Ms. Vincent would like to increase that number and see a demerit point penalty applied.
She said the State Government has approved this proposal for a regulation.
There is a current search for a council to trial the demerit point penalty to fix any issues.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest report stated just under one in five Australians reported having a disability in 2009.
People living with a disability who meet the required conditions can be issued an Australian accessible parking permit.
These permits are issued by the State Government to people with a disability and organisations who provide transport services for them.
The permit must be displayed from the rear vision mirror, or on the passenger side of the dashboard.
Only drivers who hold an accessible parking permit are permitted to park in these designated spaces.
With the number of people with a disability increasing each year, it is important that drivers follow these rules.
Ms. Vincent is hopeful these new penalties will deter drivers from breaking the rules.
“Demerit points are precious, and it’s an inconvenience to lose your license,” she said.
She said she is positive it will send a strong message for people not to park in those spaces.
The incorrect use of accessible parking permits can have a significant impact on people who live with a disability.
Angus Fowler, a person living with a disability, knows first-hand of the consequences these actions can have.
“From an emotional aspect, you feel a bit frustrated,” Mr. Fowler said.
“It’s like c’mon people, these parks are there for a reason” he added.
Mr. Fowler’s mobility is also affected by cerebral palsy.
He said when accessible parks are taken by non-permit drivers it has a physical impact on him.
“Depending on how far you have to walk, you’re knackered when you get there,” he said.
“I would really support the demerit point docking idea. It would be an excellent way to deter people from taking those parking spaces”.
Ms. Vincent said this new proposal will not only ensure people receive harsher penalties but that they learn about the serious nature of their actions.
She said she is hopeful the penalties will soon be legislated state-wide.
To apply for an accessible parking permit, fill out an application form at http://www.sa.gov.au/topics/driving-and-transport/other-forms-of-transport/getting-around-with-a-disability/disability-parking-permit and return it to your local Service SA Customer Service Centre.