New figures have revealed that local councils have collected over £4million from fines handed to motorists misusing disabled parking spaces.
Rob Hull, This Is Money, reports:
Almost 100,000 motorists received fines for parking in disabled bays without displaying a Blue Badge last year, according to a new report.
Confused.com said 97,138 drivers racked up fines worth £4.2 million for using disabled parking spaces operated by councils in 2017.
It also found that an additional 11,100 tickets worth over £1.7 million were issued to motorists who parked in front of dropped kerbs, potentially blocking access for wheelchair users and those with pushchairs.
The comparison site said the data showed 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 per cent of offences for parking in a disabled bay without displaying a Blue Badge in 2017 occurred in November and December, when many would have hit the high street during Black Friday sales and hunting for Christmas presents.
The data revealed that motorists in the South East received the most fines for leaving their car in designated Blue Badge parking spaces.
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.
With so many motorists taking spaces designated for those with disabilities, this leaves few parking spots for the motorists that really need them, making getting out of vehicles much harder and lengthening the walk from the car to the shop, their house, or other destinations.
These figures also don't cover those drivers who incorrectly used disabled parking bays in supermarkets and private car parks, suggesting the 97,000 Penalty Charge Notices issued by 130 councils are just the tip of the iceberg.
Confused.com said the statistics bring into question if there are enough parking spaces allocated to Blue Badge holders in the first place.
Further investigation revealed that there are just 42,000 council-owned disabled parking bays and 1.2 million motorists who currently hold a Blue Badge in the UK.
That works out at one parking space per 34 permit holders.
'It’s no wonder more than half (53 per cent) of Blue Badge holders are calling for more designated disabled parking spaces to be made available, according to further research,' the report said.
'And with government plans to open up the Blue Badge scheme to include invisible disabilities [such as autism and mental health conditions] in 2019, there will certainly be a shortage of spaces for disabled motorists or passengers, even if people did stop abusing them unnecessarily,' it added.
As well as revealing the results of its Freedom of Information requests to UK councils, the comparison site also conducted a survey of 2,000 motorists to discover why so many fines are handed out to drivers who ignore disabled parking bay signage.
Of the panel, eight per cent admitted to illegally parking in disabled bays, with more than a third (35 per cent) saying they did so because they were 'only going to be quick' and another quarter (27 per cent) claimed there were plenty of other disabled bays available in the area.
Nearly one in five (19 per cent) of these offenders said they were confronted by another motorists when they were outed for not having a Blue Badge or a valid reason to park in the space.
The figures highlight the shocking behaviour of a large number of motorists who ignore the signage of disabled spaces. More should be done to try and ensure that these motorists are further deterred from parking in such spaces in the future.