WINAMAC, Ind., May 3, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- May is National Mobility Awareness Month and a new survey reveals that 74 percent of people have personally seen a handicap accessible parking space being improperly used. Parking limitations cause major challenges for wheelchair users, but the study indicates that lack of understanding about handicap accessible parking on the part of other drivers may be the underlying issue.
BraunAbility, the world's leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts, released this data as part of their Save My Spot campaign to help educate the public about the meaning and importance of handicap accessible parking.
To bring awareness to the challenges wheelchair users face, here are five facts you probably didn't know about handicap accessible parking.
The striped lines next to a handicap accessible parking space have a specific purpose.
Striped lines next to a handicap accessible parking space primarily indicate it is reserved for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, yet 42 percent of respondents were unaware of this purpose.15 percent were unaware that the lines had a specific meaning at all.
There is a difference between handicap accessible parking for cars and wheelchair-accessible vans.
Many handicap accessible parking spaces are reserved for people with a disability who are not driving a wheelchair accessible vehicle. However, when the parking sign says, "Accessible Vans," it is reserved for wheelchair accessible vehicles only.
"People with disabilities need much more room when they arrive in a wheelchair accessible van," said Chris Carlisle, Vice President of Marketing at BraunAbility. "Van accessible spaces are wider than regular handicap accessible parking spaces, offering room for people to lower their ramp and enter and exit their vehicle. In our survey, we asked able-bodied people what they would do if a car parked too close to them, and 75 percent said they would climb through a window or opposite door to get in. Wheelchair users don't have this option and need the extra space."
Van accessible spaces are easily identified by a blue-striped access aisle on the passenger side.
Some people have "hidden disabilities" that may not look like they need a handicap accessible spot, but they do.
Twenty-seven percent of survey participants did not know handicap accessible parking spots were also designated for hidden disabilities like deafness or a recent knee injury.
"There are no visible supports such as a cane or wheelchair for hidden disabilities, but that doesn't mean the person parking there is misusing the spot," Carlisle said.
Businesses are required to have a certain number of handicap accessible spots.
The number of handicap accessible parking spaces required depends on the total number of parking spaces in the lot, but at least one in every six handicap accessible spaces must be van accessible, according to the American Disabilities Act.
Wheelchairs continue to increase in size requiring more room to maneuver in and out of vehicles.
"Chairs continue to get bigger, which can result in maneuverability challenges for chair users as they try to get in and out of vehicles," Carlisle said.
Chair users benefit from accessible vehicles that provide more maneuverability such as the BraunAbility Pacifica, which was designed to deliver the most interior space and ease of entry and exit . Vehicles like this are larger and require extra space in a parking spot for the wheelchair user to access a fully deployed ramp.
Handicap accessible parking plays a critical role in giving chair users independence and mobility, making it important to understand the rules of the parking lot.
BraunAbility is partnering with its dealers across the United States and Canada to give away Save My Spot kits this month. The kits will include a window sticker, Save My Spot "parking tickets" and other items to help spread the message about proper usage of handicap accessible parking. You can learn more and help BraunAbility spread this message during National Mobility Awareness Month by picking up a kit at your local BraunAbility dealer or by sharing the Save My Spot video available at BraunAbility.com.
BraunAbility is the world's leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts. Founded nearly 50 years ago by Ralph Braun, the company has grown into the most well-known and trusted name in the mobility industry, bringing independence to millions of individuals across the world. BraunAbility is a wholly owned subsidiary to Patricia Industries, a division of Investor AB Group. Visit www.braunability.com for more information.