Disabled drivers want stronger penalties for unregistered use of designated parking spots

Disabled motorists have complained that unregistered drivers continue to park their vehicles in reserved parking spots.

In 2003, Abdullah had a motorbike accident that put him in a wheelchair. Reem Mohammed / The National
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DUBAI // Disabled motorists have complained that unregistered drivers continue to park their vehicles in reserved parking spots.

Abdullah bin Took, an Emirati who has been registered disabled for 12 years, believed there should be stronger penalties to deter the practice.

“I always face this situation in malls, especially in Dubai Mall and especially when tourists come from the GCC,” said Mr bin Took, 34.

He said Emirati drivers were also guilty of parking in the disabled bays. “In these cases, I report them to the police who tell me they will send a patrol to the spot to fine the person.”

Mr bin Took said he was unable to use normal parking bays as he needed space to open his door and get his wheelchair out. Often at malls, he is forced to pay extra to valet his car.

“Motorists are not aware of our rights,” he said. “I would advise putting radars in handicapped parking spots to catch people who don’t have the car stickers and they should fine tourists who entered the country by car and not allow them leave the UAE until they pay their fines.

“They should show humanity and if they want my designated car space, I tell them take it and give me your health to be able to walk.”

Lobna Abdelaziz, who has a sister who has been disabled since birth, agreed that the parking issue needed addressing.

“I find people who park in the disabled car space and they don’t have the disabled card and don’t have a disabled person with them,” said Ms Abdelaziz, 25, an Egyptian social media executive.

“Most of them are unaware about the rights of handicapped people because if they don’t deal with someone handicapped they are not aware.”

She believed the UAE Government worked to improve the lives of disabled people but this issue needed addressing.

“The UAE is one of the best countries in providing the best services for handicapped people,” she said.

On December 21, Dubai Police’s traffic department launched a campaign to deter the public from parking in disabled bays.

The department said that the number of violations per year has increased from 9,893 in 2012 to 10,265 in 2015. The fine for the offence is Dh1,000 with four black points.

The campaign, which features TV and radio adverts, will run until Thursday under the slogan ‘Stand beside them, not in their place’.

Last month, police also announced plans to install high-tech machines in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah in 2016 to make sure unregistered motorists do not park in disabled spaces.

The machines, which have been piloted in Fujairah, work by scanning the number plates of each car that pulls into the space.

If the owner is a registered disabled permit-holder, then a blue light will flash indicating the driver is allowed to park there.

If the plate is not registered, then a red light will flash and an audio alert will sound, telling the driver that they have 30 seconds to drive away else they will be fined.

The devices, called Makani or “my place”, were demonstrated to the public at Marina Mall as part of last month’s UAE Innovation Week.