App reports illegal disabled spot parkers

6 September 2013
, Car Connection

We are not what you'd call a bunch of goodie-goodies. We have prank-ordered pizzas for people we don't like. We have toilet-papered the yards of our friends and neighbours. We may have even consumed beer, then liquor, which as you can imagine, left us sicker. But few things make us quite as angry as seeing a car without the correct permit whip into one of those bright blue parking spaces.

Thankfully, the New York Times says there's an app that allows folks like us to report d-bag drivers who use parking spots meant for the disabled. Even better: if the driver is fined, 20 per cent of the fee will go to charity.

The app was conceived by a non-profit organisation called Parking Mobility. According to the group's website: "Disabled parking abuse is rampant. Studies show that more 1-in-4 vehicles in disabled parking do so illegally. No matter what priority cities give disabled parking enforcement, city enforcement agents (police, etc) cannot be everywhere at all times."

Using Parking Mobility's app is easy. When you see a car that's wrongfully parked in a disabled spot, just take three quick photos with your smartphone: one of the rear of the vehicle showing the make, model, and license plate; a wider one of the parking spot, showing that the vehicle is clearly parked there; and one of the car's windscreen, proving that there's no disabled parking tag.

After that's done, use the app to upload the photos to Parking Mobility's database. Parking Mobility will tag the time, date, and location of the photos, then submit them to the proper authorities. 

As simple as that sounds, however, the app does have a couple of drawbacks. For a start, it's not available in Australia yet, having just launched in the US.

On a technical note, the city where the violation takes place has to be enrolled in Parking Mobility's reporting program. On the non-profit's website, there's no easy way to tell which councils have already signed up.

On a personal note, as much as we loathe able-bodied motorists who park in disabled spots, Parking Mobility is only one step above snitching. We know that snitching is The Thing right now -- "If you see something, say something" and all that -- but the Playground Code of Ethics has been firmly embedded in our brains. Sorry.

If you'd like to give the Parking Mobility app a try, there are versions for Android, Blackberry, and iOS devices, all of which are free. For a complete overview, check out the short video above.