Parking lots and the handicapped

We’ve all seen people park in handicapped spots who appear to have no disability. Often, we are told the disability is something along the lines of asthma or a bad heart or some affliction which makes walking across the parking lot difficult.

So I’m wondering what makes walking across the parking lot much worse than walking around the store. I can understand if it is a really hot day, but in general this isn’t the case. Is the extra distance across the parking lot really the difference here? It seems that the distance spent walking around the store would dwarf the distance walked in the parking lot.

About the only time I don’t wonder about the authenticity of the handicapped space user is when a wheelchair is involved. For them, if nothing else, the extra space is a necessity. I think this really hit home with me the other day when I saw someone use a handicapped spot because their passenger was blind. Granted, being blind is a handicap, but one which means it is more difficult to walk? I can understand that it might be a bit more difficult than for a sighted person, but I didn’t think it would be that much more difficult.

I don’t mean to slight anyone. It really is that I just don’t understand, so I’m looking for insights which I don’t have. If I sound cold, I apologize. Please, chalk up to ignorance any perceived animosity.

The person you seeing walking from the car to the building may have a leg problem such that he or she can only walk comfortably for a few minutes; getting a space close to the door may mean the difference between shopping or going to the post office in comfort and staying home (or walking around in extreme pain).

Also, the person may be on his or her way to pick up the person who is disabled. It’s also possible the walker is driving around without the disabled person and is abusing the parking privilege (using the handicapped space just because he’s got the tag on his car, when he could just as well take a regular spot and leave the handicapped one for somebody who needs it).

The main one I have heard (WAG) :
Parking close to the building/store means less chance of getting clocked by a vehicle if you are slower-moving or visually impaired.

Also, sometimes it’s easier for the caregiver. Still legit in my book, as long as the person-with-the-pass is present.

The person may also be walking into the store with the intent of using the store’s wheelchair or motorized cart once he or she gets inside.

My father uses a handicapped permit; his disability is visible (severe limp and physical disfigurement due to rheumatoid arthritis). When I see a handicapped permit/plate on a car in the HC, that’s good enough for me, regardless of the appearance of the people in the car. If anyone with an HC family member has the gall to abuse the permit, I figure karma will kick them in the ass soon enough. If anyone at all should know better . . .

Ethilrist - Your comment about handicapped people not being to go to a store without pain was the main thrust of my question. It seems the walk across the parking lot would be much smaller than any walking that will be done inside the store.

Alyssa - You bring up another good reason I had considered but didn’t say in the OP. Namely, people in wheelchairs are lower and therefore quite possibly below the ability of people to see them as they are backing out. I’m not sure slower moving or visually impaired makes someone more likely to get clocked, but it is certainly a point I hadn’t considered. Thanks.

Scarlett67 - Excellent point about them using the electric carts in the store.

I don’t have strong feelings one way or another about the abuse of handicapped spots. I just don’t understand the “Because I can’t walk very far” reason usually offered, so I thought I’d find out what I’m missing.

It’s often the cumulative effect of the walking. Even if they will be walking in the store, having to walk a shorter distance to get there is helpful if they have problems with pain.

Walking from a handicapped spot to a store then walking in the store might be right on the edge of a person’s capability. If they have to walk 100 more yards to get to the store, they might not be able to do it.

The reason that someone needs a permit is not really something for the rest of us to “understand.” Whether a person qualifies for a handicapped permit is between that person, his or her doctor, and the state. None of our business, really.

People with disabilities already have enough troubles with daily living. I figure anything that the law can do to ease those troubles, even just a little bit, is all right by me.

If the walk gets to be too much for you in the store, you can stop and rest, perhaps sit down for a bit. If you collapse in a store (God forbid), there are more likely to be people nearby, no asphalt to fall onto, and no cars that might not see you. You can also walk slower without worry of being hit by a car, and (for the blind), if you drift into the center of a grocery aisle, your biggest worry is being run into by an errant child or grocery cart.

The parking lot is not a good place for someone who has any kind of trouble walking.

Blind people not only would not see cars coming, they would not necessarily see things in their way. Canes might help, but they do not tell somebody they’re about to get run over or bump into some people standing around talking. In stores, hopefully the aisles are kept clear so people can get through safely.

I have taken a blind person shopping and on various errands. Every curb, every stray shopping cart, every crack or uneven spot in the pavement, every loose brick, slippery spot, plastic bag, or badly parked car is a potential hazard – even with a sighted person leading the way. The shorter the distance from the vehicle to the store (where there will be a whole new set of hazards to negotiate), the safer.

For many of these disabilities, the same idea applies as with the “stork parking” I see nowadays mostly by grocery stores for pregnant women and mothers of very small children - it’s just easier to park closer. The store is climate-controlled, for one thing, and it’s a mark of respect and care for those who can’t walk as easily or as unencumberedly as the rest of us.

It’s not just the distance, it’s also the environment.

For someone with asthma, emphysema, or heart disease extreme cold or heat can put extra stress on the body. My mother, for instance, is forbidden to go outside in temperatures less than 40 or more than 80 (Farenheit) unless absolutely necessary, and then only for the briefest of times. A 10 degree day could precipitate (another) heart attack. So, in these cases, minimal exposure to extreme weather is a must.

Also, my husband, who is disabled, has been known to park, walk into the store, and then request a scooter when he knows the walking will exceed his comfort level. Many places offer this sort of thing.

Also, there are a lot of people who can walk on smooth, dry surfaces but would find negotiating uneven pavement, slick ground, or ice and snow hazardous. Again, the placard enables them to minimize their exposure to the hazard.

Two-fold - a blind person is more likely to be hit by a vehicle because they can’t see the driver coming at them. And a sighted person can see uneven pavement and road hazards which helps avoid them. Blind people can’t, and thus are more likely to fall down.

The spaces are also closer to wheelchair ramps and other ways of making it easier to step over the curb.

I used to walk with a cane from time to time due to a knee problem. If I’d had my license, I probably would have had, and used, a handicapped pass. Drivers can get VERY impatient when you cannot walk quickly, and besides, for me shopping involves a certain amount of standing and comparing prices, during which I can take my weight off my knee.

Unfortunately, my knee was bad enough to keep me from learning to drive my parents’ manual transmission car, so I didn’t get my license until a coupla years after I had knee surgery.

" I think this really hit home with me the other day when I saw someone use a handicapped spot because their passenger was blind. "

I’m pretty sure that you can’t use the space if you’re an able driver even if your passenger is not. Might depend on local laws.

Some severely-able people have contempt for handicapped people & thus, park in their spaces. I don’t know if handicapped people parking in non handicapped spaces have contempt for the severely-able body.

handy, I’m quite sure that this is not the case. Otherwise, anyone with a disability who could not drive would never be able to use a handicapped stall (for unloading a wheelchair, because of proximity to the building, etc.). The presence of the person to whom the handicapped permit was issued is what matters.

In Illinois this is legal, although frequently misunderstood. (I took advantage of it myself after leg surgery, as it’s hard to drive a stick-shift car with one functional leg.) If it weren’t, how would people get around if they were unable to drive, perhaps due to the disability?

It’s only legal if you are accompanying the disabled person, though. Unfortunately, it’s frequently abused by people who borrow Grandma’s decal when Grandma isn’t using it. Used to piss me off to no end.

Even if you are ‘handi-capped’ you still HAVE to go to the store. You need food and clothes. You just suffer while you get those everyday chores done. The parking spaces just take away a little of the suffering.

In Pennsylvania, at least, I can guarantee this is not true. My BIL uses a wheelchair, and my sister has had a hang-tag for her car from the time she got a 'chair-accessible van. She always drives the van, but as long as he’s with her they can park in a handicapped space.

And I’m with Eva Luna in being p*ssed at the people who abuse this. If the passenger who needs the space isn’t with you, keep the hang-tag in the glove compartment! :mad:

Back when my wife still had enough vision to drive she qualified for handicapped plates on the basis of severe athritis and nerve damage in her legs. We still have the van and occasionally a friend uses it to drive us. But if my wife isn’t in the van we never park in a handicapped space. We also have a hang-tag which she uses if someone drives her in their own car. Eventually we’ll probably be disposing of the van, but we’ll be able to keep the hang-tag.

Ivylad qualifies for a handicapped placard.

I do the driving, but if he’s with me, then we’ll park in the handicapped spot. If he’s not, I won’t. And I must admit, since I have a horrible sense of direction, it’s very easy to find the car in the parking lot if you park in the handicapped spot. Sometimes, though, they’re all full and we have to park somewhere else.

And it’s not that easy to get a HC sticker. You have to have a note from your doctor…it’s not like you can walk into the DMV with a collar around your neck, complain of whiplash, and get a sticker.