Suggestions to improve disability parking system

It is heartening to note that the Government is doing something about the abuse of disability parking labels ("Rules on parking labels for disabled set to be tightened"; Sept 28, 2015).

But I am worried that those with genuine disabilities may have to suffer the consequences of the actions of abusers.

The committee reviewing the scheme is expected to announce its recommendations this year.

I offer the following points for the team's consideration:

• Focus on enforcement, rather than penalising those with disabilities by making the labels less available.

• Educate the public to be more considerate towards those with disabilities.

• As the population ages, the demand for disability parking will rise. Consider increasing the number of reserved spaces, especially in places of high demand, such as hospitals.

• The use of smaller mobility aids, such as a walking stick, does not imply that the person is as capable as one who is not mobility challenged.

• Proximity to a building entrance and the need to open a car door fully are important concerns.

• Consider using technology to enforce the rules of reserved parking. Cars with official labels have their in-vehicle units (IU) registered. Detectors at the reserved spaces can detect non-registered IUs.

A hefty fine will deter abusers from further abuse. A webcam focused on these reserved spaces may also be a deterrence.

• The measures put in place must be practical and enforceable.

A Class 2 label (given to disabled people who are being ferried by caregivers, and which allows vehicles to be parked in allotted spaces for up to an hour) is not practical, as there is no way to know how long the car has been parked there. The phone number provided to report abuse is also not practical, as the abuser could have departed by the time the enforcers arrive.

• Few, if any, of the reserved spaces have a pedestrian crossing from the reserved space to the entrance of the building. A form of disability crossing should be provided if a disabled person has to cross the path of vehicles. A speed bump or flashing light that can be activated by a disabled person at these crossings will provide additional safety.

Kua Sian Ten

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'Suggestions to improve disability parking system'. Print Edition | Subscribe