STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 ON TUESDAY 11TH DECEMBER 2018
- Motorists fined £4m million for abusing disabled parking spaces in one year (1) -
- £1.7million in fines was also issued for parking in front of a dropped kerb(1) – obstructing road access for wheelchair and pushchair users –
More than £4 million in fines have been served to motorists who abuse disabled parking spaces in just one year(1).
New data obtained by Confused.com through Freedom of Information requests to UK local authorities revealed up to 97,138 drivers were on the receiving end of a fine for parking in a designated disabled person’s parking space without displaying a Blue Badge permit in 2017. This amounts to a whopping £4,244,949 in penalty charge notices (PCNs) for both on-street and off-street disabled parking violations.
However, it isn’t just disabled parking spaces that motorists are obstructing, as a further £1,709,679 was issued in PCNs to motorists for blocking a dropped kerb, which can be used for easy passage between the pavement and road for wheelchair users or pushchairs.
No doubt some people are left scratching their heads at these figures, given there are generally more standard car parking spaces than dedicated disabled bays. However, the data proves that motorists are more inclined to hop in a disabled parking space during busier periods, for example, during the Christmas shopping rush. In fact, 16% of offences for parking in a disabled parking space without displaying a Blue Badge in 2017 happened throughout November and December, which everyone knows is the worst time of the year to try and find a parking space.
Although it’s not just drivers heading out during the Christmas shopping period who are most likely to find a PCN on their doorstop for parking in a disabled spot. Confused.com analysed data from 130 local authorities across the UK to find out where the biggest culprits are located. Compiled into a new ‘Parking Space Invaders’ interactive visualisation, the data revealed that it’s motorists in the South East that received the most fines for leaving their car in designated Blue Badge parking space. In total, up to 19,522 motorists parked in a disabled parking space in the region in 2017, amounting to a whopping £838,533 in fines. See how this compares to other regions across the UK using Confused.com’s ‘Parking Space Invaders’ visualisation.
With so many motorists taking spaces designated for Blue Badge holders, this leaves few parking spots for those that need them, making getting out of the car much harder and lengthening the walk from the car to the shop, their house, or other destination. However, this raises the question of if there are enough parking spaces for Blue Badge holders in the first place. In fact, further investigation by Confused.com found that there are currently more than 42,000 council-owned parking spaces for disabled drivers and 1.2 million Blue Badge holders in the UK – which works out as 34 permit holders to one disabled parking space(2,3). It’s no wonder more than half (53%) of Blue Badge holders are calling for more designated disabled parking spaces to be made available, according to further research. And with government plans to open up the Blue Badge scheme to include invisible disabilities in 2019, there will certainly be a shortage of spaces for disabled motorists or passengers(4), even if people did stop abusing them unnecessarily. Although it’s clear there is already an issue with the number of spaces allocated to motorists with Blue Badge permits, with more than three quarters (77%) of frequent users saying they have had to park in a standard space on more than one occasion because there weren’t any disabled spaces available.
But there is no denying there is very much an issue with people abusing disabled parking spaces given the millions of pounds motorists have had to pay out as a punishment for their actions. And this abuse is something many motorists have put their hands up to, with almost a tenth (8%) of UK drivers who are not Blue Badge users admitting to using a designated disabled parking space. Unfortunately, the majority of these did not have a valid excuse, with more than a third (35%) admitting they did it because they were “only going to be quick”. A further one in four (27%) claimed there were plenty of other disabled spaces available. However, some faith is restored, as nearly one in five (19%) of these offenders were confronted by another motorist, of which the majority (61%) then went on to move their car.
However, those who didn’t move their car would soon regret it after receiving a fine. In fact, almost one in five (19%) motorists who do not use a Blue Badge have received at least one fine at some point, costing them £102, on average. Although for some, this isn’t enough with more than a third (36%) of drivers wanting to see a harsher punishment for people who abuse disabled parking spaces. And it seems motorists feel very strongly about the matter, with seven in 10 (70%) admitting they feel infuriated when they see people abusing a Blue Badge parking space. In fact, one in four (24%) are confused why people park in a disabled space if they do not have a Blue Badge, given that almost a third (32%) think the rules are very clear.
Motorists are also being served some pretty big fines for parking in front of a dropped kerb, which can obstruct road or pavement access for wheelchair users. In fact, one in five (19%) drivers admit to parking in front of a dropped kerb – a quarter (25%) of which were landed with a fine, which cost £154 on average.
Given the fine for abusing or obstructing disabled access can cost offenders more than £100, it might seem that this would be enough to stop them from doing it again. However, according to the research, motorists who have wrongly parked in a disabled space admit to doing so four times on average. Perhaps this was until they found a fine on their doorstep.
And some motorists have taken it upon themselves to call out offenders, with almost one in 10 (9%) saying they have confronted another driver for parking in a disabled space without displaying a Blue Badge. A further one in six (17%) would confront a driver if they parked in a designated disabled space if they were not displaying their Blue Badge, or didn’t look disabled. However some did not see it as their place, with almost half (49%) of drivers admitting they have witnessed another motorist wrongly parking in a disabled bay, but did not confront them.
There is no denying that parking spaces can be quite difficult to come by, particularly during busy shopping periods. But there is clearly a need for more spaces for Blue Badge holders, especially with more being introduced in 2019.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Disabled parking spaces are available for a reason, and motorists should be mindful of leaving these to those who need them. I am with the 24% of motorists who are confused about why people park in disabled spaces if they aren’t a Blue Badge holder.
“But it’s clear this is an issue across the UK, and millions of pounds have been issued to drivers in fines, as shown in our animated illustration. I’m sure this is a cost motorists could do without. We urge drivers to do the right thing and stick to standard parking spaces to avoid being landed with a fine. If they’re worried about a lack of parking, then leaving that little bit earlier might give them more time to find a space.”
Notes to editors
Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 4th December and 6th December 2018.