Blue Badge parking image

According to new research from charity Disabled Motoring UK, roughly one in five disabled parking spaces are abused at supermarkets across the UK.

The results were published as part of the charity’s 2019 Baywatch Campaign, which asked the general public to survey their local supermarket for signs of disabled car parking abuse. “Abuse” means that someone has wrongly parked their car in a disabled space without displaying a Blue Badge.

This year’s campaign saw Disabled Motoring UK have the largest number of responses ever – 732 responses – highlighting the significance of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets. The campaign includes four of the biggest UK supermarkets: Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Tesco and Morrisons.

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According to the survey, the overall level of disabled parking abuse across all supermarkets was 16 percent. When the charity carried out the Baywatch Campaign in 2017, the general level of abuse was 18.5 percent, showing slight improvement over the two-year period.

The findings also revealed that, on average, three out of 15 disabled parking bays are abused at supermarkets – equating to roughly one in five disabled spaces being wrongly parked in.

Additionally, of the supermarkets surveyed, 60 percent had visible enforcement signage in place about the consequences of wrongly parking in a disabled bay. Of the supermarkets with enforcement signage, disabled parking abuse remained at 16 percent. Interestingly, the 40 percent that had no visible enforcement signage saw disabled parking abuse rise to 36 percent. This shows that enforcement signage decreases levels of disabled parking abuse.

Morrisons came out on top in the 2019 Baywatch Campaign, with just 10 percent of disabled parking abuse in its car parks.

Comparative figures for the four supermarkets in the 2019 survey can be viewed in the table below:

On the 30th of August, eligibility for a Blue Badge changed in England to extend to more people with hidden disabilities, such as those with anxiety or dementia.

Disabled Motoring UK predicts this change to the scheme will mean that disabled parking is more pressured due to an increase in the number of Blue Badge holders. The charity is therefore calling on supermarkets to do more to help their disabled customers, including introducing stronger enforcements on disabled parking so only Blue Badge holders can park in those spaces.

From the results of its survey, Disabled Motoring UK believes that stronger enforcements across UK supermarkets could make available up to 20 percent more bays for their genuine disabled customers without having to do any structural changes to their car parks.

Heidi Turner, Communications and Campaigns Director at Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK), said: “DMUK is ecstatic with the level of support it has received for this year’s Baywatch campaign. The statistics show that one in five disabled bays is abused.

“Disabled parking is under immense pressure to meet the demand for it and if supermarkets enforced their disabled bays properly they can increase the volume of available disabled parking by 20%. It is time that the supermarkets take this issue seriously and support their disabled customers”

The Baywatch Campaign will return in 2021 to assess any changes in disabled parking abuse at supermarkets in the UK.

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