Posted Apr 10, 2008 11:18 pm CDT
Seeing a seemingly able-bodied individual stride away from a car parked in a prime handicapped space, many an observer has wondered if that person really has a hidden handicap. But now we know: A newspaper investigative team in Miami has confirmed that, at least on one isolated day, in one local shopping mall parking lot, most didn’t.
Surveying an entrance to the Dadeland Mall today for four hours, reporters saw about 45 cars pull into 11 handicapped parking spaces, reports the Miami Herald. All had the required placard claiming a disability, but only two passengers were clearly handicapped (one was in a wheelchair; the other had a walker).
“Most were middle-aged women who parked in the spaces, strolled into the mall and returned with handfuls of shopping bags,” the newspaper recounts. “Many said the permits had been issued to their disabled husbands or elderly parents—none of whom rode along. Some said they were at the mall to pick them up, but later left alone. None would give their names.”
It’s a misdemeanor to misuse someone else’s handicapped parking placard, but offenders are rarely prosecuted.
Other users of the handicapped spaces were elderly, walked slowly, and told reporters they suffered from hidden handicaps such as rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, spinal cord injuries, emphysema, diabetes and varicose veins.
The state governor and other officials are considering reforms to try to reduce the amount of handicapped parking abuse, and are expected to discuss ideas for doing so this summer.