Parking using an invalid disabled parking permit – the familiar wheelchair graphic on a blue background – has become more easily detectable, with a new app to be issued to traffic wardens and police. The app has undergone testing in Antwerp, Namur and the Brussels commune of Koekelberg, and is now ready to be rolled out nationwide. During the testing period, it was found that one in eight cards was being used illegally.
Disabled parking cards are issued to anyone who suffers from a medical condition which makes walking from car to shop, office or home difficult. However not all disabled people are in wheelchairs, and many present no symptoms visible to the layperson.
Illegal cards are either issued to a person since deceased, expired or simply counterfeited.
According to estimates, some 220,000 invalid cards are in circulation, compared to a total of 440,000 legal cards. The app was developed on the request of federal equal opportunities minister Zuhal Demir. It scans the card displayed behind the car’s windscreen, and checks with its database to see if the card is still valid for the car displaying it.
During the testing phase, users scanned 16,305 cards, and found 2,038 to be invalid – far fewer than general estimates suggest. The cards in question were withdrawn, and the users received a fine of €116. In addition, some of the cars were towed away, with users of the fake cards made to pay the costs of removal and recovery.
“It is becoming more difficult for fraudsters to steal places they are not entitled to,” Demir said. “That practice is unacceptable. From now on, controllers have a powerful weapon to allow them to get tough with offenders.”