Almost a third of British drivers say they would challenge someone they thought was misusing a using a disabled parking bay, new research has revealed.
But motorists are being warned not to make “hasty” assumptions in the face of changing rules around Blue Badge use.
In Scotland and Wales Blue Badges – the permits which allow parking in disabled bays – are already available to people with hidden disabilities and from next year England will follow suit.
The extension of the scheme means that people without physical disabilities, such as those with autism or mental health conditions, will be able to use disabled parking spots.
The changes are designed to make travelling easier for people who cannot make a journey without “a risk of serious harm to their health or safety” or those who suffer “very considerable psychological distress” from journeys.
But it’s feared that ignorance of the changes could lead to unwarranted confrontations.
Harrison Woods, managing director at YourParkingSpace.co.uk which conducted the research, said: “It is admirable that almost a third of Brits would confront someone misusing a disabled parking spot.
“Given the changes to the system in 2019 it might be prudent for those millions of Brits willing to challenge a suspected disabled parking space misuser to show some restraint and not jump to a hasty conclusion if they suspect someone is parking in a disabled spot dishonestly just because they cannot see any outward signs of a disability.”
Commenting on the, Sue Bott CBE, deputy chief executive at Disability Rights UK, said: “It is helpful to see acknowledged that it is not just physical impairments that can make mobility difficult but also some mental health issues as well. We supported the Government’s proposals at consultation stage and are delighted that this long overdue change has been made.”
The study also found that many drivers backed harsh punishments for those who misuse disabled parking bays.
More than ten per cent agreed that the maximum fine for not displaying a Blue Badge should be raised to £1,500 while around five per cent backed temporary driving bans for offenders.