Are handicap parking privileges being abused?

Are handicap parking privileges being abused?

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Too often, I see people briskly step out of their vehicles parked in handicapped parking zones and displaying handicapped licenses plates or handicapped rear view mirror tags. They just don’t look like they need the plates, but who in government is courageous enough to set this abuse straight?

By Ray Hanania

Handicapped Parking spaces. Are they being abused by senior citizens and elderly who are healthy but want the privilege of parking near the door? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Handicapped Parking spaces. Are they being abused by senior citizens and elderly who are healthy but want the privilege of parking near the door? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three times in the past two weeks, I’ve watched drivers in perfect health, park their cars in Handicap spaces and then briskly walk to do their business.

It’s disturbing. Handicap parking should be for those who have real handicaps – using a walker, wheelchair, or have serious disabilities, not for those who think they deserve special privileges.

Has Handicap parking become a license for privilege and clout?

Just because you are old doesn’t mean you should get a tag that allows you to park in a Handicap space.

I’m old, and I don’t need help. I also don’t need a handicap parking spot. It’s healthy for me to park further away and walk. Yes, walk. It’s good for even us seniors.

I am not saying people with obvious disabilities should be denied the tags and plate. I know some disabled people need a driver, who is not disabled, to help them and drive them around.

But when the disabled person or handicapped person is NOT in the car, then the driver, who is NOT handicapped, should not be allowed to park in a Handicap space.

Too often, people who have handicap plates and tags just park there because they can.

As a baby boomer, my world is turning into Senior World fast. They’re a lot of us. I got to the health club and see how healthy they really are, walking from their handicap spaces to exercise and socialize, too.

I don’t think an elderly person who can pump 150 pounds of iron at the Health Club, or ride an exercise bike for an hour should be punished for parking his, or her, car in a Handicap space?

That’s pretty selfish.

Recently, a reader quibbled when I complained Handicap Parking is being abused.

She noted some people who look like they don’t have handicaps, do.

“I feel compelled to write after reading your article in Friday, March 6th. No doubt there are people who abuse the handicap parking program. I have had Parkinson’s Disease for 18 years now. I look normal, but am far from it. My walking freezes without warning. Leaving Chicago Ridge Mall last summer, I got ‘stuck’ on the curb to the parking lot for a half hour. I never know what kind of day I’m going to have. It’s always a surprise! I only use my placard when my day is already going the wrong way.”

She’s definitely an exception. But it is so wrong for others who have no real disability to park in handicap spots.

Something needs to be done.

The state could require Senior Parking spots and Secretary of State Jesse White could issue “Senior Parking” permits for spaces further away from Handicap spots.

I also think people should be allowed to submit videotapes of suspected offenders and send the videos to the state for review.

I bet many vehicles with handicap tags or plates are driven by people who do not need them, and should only use them when a handicapped person is in the car.

The requirements for obtaining a handicap plate or tag are strict. The list is specific (wheelchairs, amputees, limited ability to walk and respiratory problems).

In too many cases that I have seen, none of these requirements apply.

If you can walk, then do it from 20 feet away and leave the handicap parking spot free for someone who really needs it.

(Ray Hanania is a former Award Winning Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania