Video Transcript: Handicapped Parking
By Saniya More SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Handicapped people are struggling to park their cars because drivers without handicapped passes are taking their reserved spots.
Accessible parking spots are designed to make it possible for people with disabilities to park in public spaces with ease. The parking spots are convenient because they give people close proximity to the location they want to go to, particularly for important errands like doctors’ appointments.
“We try to help people become as independent as possible, and certainly be inclusive in society as much as we can,” says Dale Marris, director of operations and acquisitions at ARC of Onondaga, an organization that works with disabled people in the county. “It’s important for us, it’s important for them.”
ARC provides services to over 2,000 individuals, from preschool students to adults. He says handicapped parking spots make it easier for individuals with physical disabilities to get to medical appointments and carry out their daily activities.
According to 2016 parking ticket data in the city of Syracuse, people paid $4 million for parking tickets, with handicapped parking violations making up about 6.6 percent or $265,000 of that amount.
Marris said individuals who use handicapped parking spots are doing a disservice to the community.
“It’s an illegal behavior, number one, and it’s disgusting that people would take advantage of that,” he said.
“The only reason I thought it was okay to park in that handicapped spot was because it was right at the back of Schine, no one was in that spot and I don’t think a handicapped person was going to park there the minute that I parked there,” says Sarah Silbowitz, a sophomore studying Human Development and Child and Family Studies at Syracuse University.
Silbowitz got a ticket for parking in a handicapped spot but says she understands she should not have done it. Silbowitz says the real concern for her is not the action but the risk.
“If you can’t pay the tickets that you might possibly get, why park in those spots and take the chance?” she said.
Silbowitz says she doesn’t think her actions hurt anyone.
Marris says he is surprised ticket prices haven’t helped curb this issue.
“You would think it would help deter people, but that $120 price apparently hasn’t swayed them yet,” he said.
Some drivers even resort to stealing handicapped tags from other cars or taking tags from those who don’t need them anymore, Marris said.
But Marris says he is optimistic and says awareness and working with local law enforcement are both essential steps to making sure this doesn’t continue to happen.