Disabled Drivers Association launches campaign for Text Alert Scheme countrywide including Gorey

Fear of physical and verbal abuse and their own safety were among the top reasons for not approaching somebody parked illegally in accessible parking bays,  according to a survey carried out by the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) in April 2024.

 Over 2,600 people from across the country responded to the survey, which was carried out to highlight the DDAI’s campaign to call on city and county councils nationwide to introduce a Text Alert Scheme to combat the misuse of accessible parking bays in public places. 94% of respondents said they would welcome a mobile phone Text Alert Scheme to notify the local warden when someone was parked illegally.

 It is an offence to park a vehicle in an accessible parking bay in a public place without a valid parking permit. Offenders receive a parking fine of €150 which increases to €225 if not paid within 28 days.  Despite this, parking bay abuse is still going on, according to Richard Ryder of the Disabled Drivers Association.

Richard Ryder, marketing manager with the Disabled Drivers Association said, “Our survey wasn’t confined to our members, we received a huge response from across the community, with many people without disabilities commenting they are annoyed and frustrated with the misuse of accessible parking bays.

It’s very clear that people want an opportunity to be able to do something about parking bay abuse but in a safe way. It’s why we are calling on city and county councils to begin using a Text Alert Scheme in their areas. It’s safe, it’s easy and it’s a significant deterrent,” Ryder continued.

The survey results were highlighted at the DDAI’s AGM and Strategy Launch in the Connacht Hotel, Galway on Sat 20th April 2024, at which the charity announced the details of its three-year strategic plan.   The plan was launched by Sean Canney TD, a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters.  The event was also attended by Mairead Farrell, TD and Noel Grealish TD with special guest Nikki Bradley, an adaptive adventurer and one of Ireland’s leading female motivational speakers.

Chairman Seamus Reidy said, “Our mission is to present physical disability in the best possible light and strives to show that most physical disabilities can be overcome, and individuals can go on to achieve their full potential, with the benefit of support and training”.

The Text Alert scheme is  already in use in Lucan and Rathfarnham Villages in Dublin and Gorey in Wexford. Every publicly accessible parking bay has a sign displaying the bay number and a mobile phone number. If someone is parked in one of those bays without a permit or is misusing the permit, people can text the bay number to alert the traffic warden.

Councillor Vicki Casserly of South Dublin County Council was involved in the piloting of the Text Alert Scheme in Lucan Village and due to its success, it is now extended across South Dublin County Council.  She is also a campaigner for inclusion and disability rights with her partner Paul and her son James.

Cllr Casserly said, “I first brought it to South Dublin County Council because I was very keen to tackle the misuse of accessible parking bays in our area and well as supporting An Garda Siochana’s Operation Enable. It’s been very successful and that’s why I believe that the Text Alert scheme should be rolled out nationwide because it does enable proper use of the parking bays and acts as a strong deterrent against misuse. The scheme supports persons with disabilities to be able to navigate their communities for their day-to-day life.  It’s so important and I’d love to see this happening across Ireland to support and acknowledge the rights of a person with a disability.”

Disability advocate Nikki Bradley is campaigning to have the Text Alert Scheme introduced into her native Donegal.  Nikki said, As someone living with a physical disability, I have experienced first-hand the negative knock- on effect that occurs when someone unlawfully parks in a disabled bay. I have often found myself left with no option but to park in a “normal” parking space which makes it extremely difficult to get out of my car. 

 The Text Alert Scheme is an excellent solution to this ongoing issue, and I welcome it wholeheartedly. It will give those living with reduced mobility that feeling of power and control that they have not had prior to now. Parking in an accessible parking bay is not a luxury. It is a necessity. 

The Disabled Drivers Association (DDAI) is Ireland’s leading charity for disabled drivers and passengers on a national level. It promotes independence and equal opportunity through mobility, education and training.  www.ddai.ie

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