x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Disabled parking imposters face police crackdown and media blitz

Motorists parking illegally in bays reserved for the disabled are to be targeted by police in a campaign aimed at stepping up the pressure on offenders.

DUBAI // Motorists parking illegally in bays reserved for the disabled are to be targeted by police in a campaign aimed at stepping up the pressure on offenders. Launched yesterday and running until July 29, the campaign, named Stand By Them, Not in Their Place, aims to capitalise on recent police successes. More than 12,000 fines were issued last year to drivers who parked illegally in disabled parking bays, down from 17,000 in 2008.

"Police will scan the whole city, and police patrols will intensify surveillance to catch violators," said Col Abdullah bin Darai, the head of the campaign. "We see this as a serious violation. We need to support special needs people." In the first quarter of this year, 2,382 fines were issued to motorists found guilty of committing the offence. In addition to the Dh1,000 fine, motorists receive four black points on their licence.

A media campaign aims to boost awareness among the public, with a text message blitz, more than 50,000 copies of a new pamphlet, and a poster campaign in malls and public spaces. A severe shortage of parking spaces for disabled motorists in the UAE means there are only 500 spaces allocated for special needs drivers of a total 70,000 paid parking spaces in the city. But there are 850 people with special needs parking permits.

The problem is compounded by the illegal parking problem, said the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Some drivers were found with fake permits, while others "borrowed" them from friends and relatives. Offenders found borrowing permits will have their vehicle confiscated for one month, while those who used fake cards will face criminal charges. "When permission is granted for a person, his car number plate is registered in the system, so police can check if the card belongs to the car," said Sultan al Marzoqui, the head of the RTA licensing department.

The RTA grants three types of disability permit: a three-year permanent permit, a temporary permit lasting for a maximum one year, and a third permit for drivers of disabled transport vehicles. Permits take around 10 days to be issued. @Email:wissa@thenational.ae