Good Thinking

Tech solution developed for disabled parking abuse

New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies has developed a system that detects when a non-disabled driver's vehicle is parked in a handicapped parking spot (Photo: Tdmalone)
New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies has developed a system that detects when a non-disabled driver's vehicle is parked in a handicapped parking spot (Photo: Tdmalone)
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New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies has developed a system that detects when a non-disabled driver's vehicle is parked in a handicapped parking spot (Photo: Tdmalone)
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New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies has developed a system that detects when a non-disabled driver's vehicle is parked in a handicapped parking spot (Photo: Tdmalone)

What does it mean when a parking spot is marked with a wheelchair symbol? If you answered, "It means I can park there as long as I'm going to be quick," you're wrong - yet you're also far from alone. Every day in parking lots all over the world, non-disabled drivers regularly use spaces clearly reserved for the handicapped. They often get away with it, too, unless an attendant happens to check while their vehicle is parked there. Thanks to technology recently developed by New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies (CPT), however, those attendants could soon be notified the instant that a handicapped spot is improperly occupied.

This is far from the first parking issue that CPT has addressed. Some of its past innovations have included SmartGuide, which uses digital signage to guide drivers through parking garages; SmartCounter, which keeps track of the number of vehicles entering and leaving parking garages, displaying a digital tally of the number of spots currently available; SmartPlate, which automatically reads and records vehicles' license plate numbers, to make sure the right cars are in the right spots; and SmartMeter, which allows drivers to remotely top up the amount of time that they've paid for.

Now, the company has developed a system in which disabled drivers' vehicles are equipped with an electronic tag. Sensors in handicapped parking spots would detect when a vehicle was pulling in, and then detect the tag - if the vehicle had one. If no tag was detected, the sensor would instantly notify parking enforcement personnel.

The system could reportedly be implemented for around the same cost as the current permit-based system, and could also be applied to other types of reserved parking. Although it has yet to be picked up by any clients, CPT claims that the technology is ready to go, and could be in use as of early next year.

20 comments
Steve Pender
The law should be that you get a ticket ONLY if you occupy one and there are no other available handicap spaces, so it becomes a gamble, but at least doesn\'t leave them all empty (I estimate that the majority of time, at least 50% of them are empty).
Chieftain
If they fined people who have a disabled sticker but park there when they don\'t have the disabled person on board, they would free up two thirds of the spaces. The authorities should look a bit closer to home to recognise the abuse.
Wragie
I\'ve been stuck using a chair this past six months and even though I have the permits etc (hopefully only temporary) I do actually avoid using the stall if there is a normal one empty. The idea is that someone might need it more than I do. Also tend to have to sit in the car and wait so get to observe just who uses the various spots. I\'ve seen a 75 grey hair old sob park and get out of the pregnant ladies only spot. I\'ve also seen a bunch of golds gym tee shirt wearing yahoos park in a handicapped spot (cutting off an old lady (with the permit displayed) and then go in and lug out a tv. For those reasons I applaud this tech though in these cases I wonder if some kind of death penalty for parking infractions might be more suitable....
Moochie
Looks like another revenue raiser for city councils to me. I\'ve seen cars with the requisite permits park in these reserved spots, with nary a disabled person on board. And I see enough cars without permits use these spots to know that it could be a problem. What I sometimes do, when waiting for my wife to arrive on the train, is park in one of these reserved spots. At that time of day most if not all of them are vacant, and if they weren\'t, and a car with a permit came along, I would (and have) moved. Should I be penalized for this? Under this system I probably would be. Fair? I don\'t think so.
Mary Dixon
If you are not entitled to be in the handicapped parking spot, don\'t park there! Don\'t develop a bad habit no matter how many spaces are occupied. Leave them empty for those that need them. If you are taking a handicapped spot and you are not entitled it will at least tell me the wrong thing about you...or will it?
Jim Sadler
Actually this idea has a huge flaw. The handicapped parking sticker travels with the person and not with the car. For example, if you have a handicapped person in your car they can bring their sticker and use it in that car or any other car in which they are a passenger. Also there is a problem if you attach an electronic unit to the car as a non-handicapped person may frequently use the same car. One other issue is with members of the public who seem to feel that they have a right to interview a disabled person to determine if he is disabled enough to have the sticker. There are many disabilities that leave the victim with a perfectly normal appearance. Yet our public is so poorly educated that many do not know that.
William H Lanteigne
Just give tow truck drivers the green light to tow any vehicle parked in a handicapped spot without handicapped permit or plate at any time without warning. Problem solved and no sophisticated tech needed.
Timberwolf
I like William\'s comment.. the tow truck companies already patrol.. just let THEM make the money off of it and they\'ll monitor it on their own dime and do an excellent job! If you have the threat of having your car impounded for parking in a HC spot then you\'ll think twice.. and no death penalty required!
xyxoxy
Where does this ridiculous sense of entitlement come from? If you are able to walk to and from an unreserved spot, why would you think you have any reason or right to park in a reserved spot regardless of whether anyone else is using them? Or whether you are waiting for someone? Or whether you are only going to be a minute? Park where you are supposed to and walk the extra 10 feet.
YukonJack
May this serve as fair warning to those who do not exhibit a \'handicapped parking\' permit or tags. I am a militant disabled veteran who can make it from my vehicle to the nearest shopping cart which is usually within 50 feet of any parking space. Any further than that and I will be using my cane for temporary support. A cane by the way for the uninformed public is used when someone has a lack of balance. Canes are not supposed to be used for support, that is what a walker is used for and I keep mine in the back of my vehicle at all times. A shopping cart gives me the same support as my walker does. I am one of those who does not have an outward appearance of being disabled. I am also one of those who will take the law into my own hands and leave my mark on your vehicle if you have parked in a handicapped parking space without exhibiting your handicapped permit. Have you spotted any new deep scratches or freshly broken windows in your vehicle lately, did you have a flat tire when you came out of the store after you had parked illegally. Have you been parking where you should not have been?
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