From the grocery store to work, school and everywhere in between, accessible parking spots are something we see each and every day. But how closely have you looked at them? If you are a wheelchair accessible vehicle driver, maybe you have looked at these spots closer than most. Did you know that there are different kinds of accessible parking spaces designated for different types of vehicles? Here’s your guide to accessible parking, anywhere you go.

Accessible Parking Spaces for Cars

The most common of handicap accessible parking spots, these spaces are designed for standard vehicles, including sedans, SUVs and vans without ramps or lifts to deploy. These spots are clearly marked with a sign—the easily recognizable blue and white icon—and have at least a 60-inch-wide aisle easily accessible from the space so a person in a wheelchair can enter or exit the vehicle without issue.

Accessible Parking for Vans with Side Entry

For drivers or passengers with disabilities riding in a minivan equipped with a side entry conversion, extra room is necessary to safely enter and exit the vehicle through the use of a ramp. Parking spaces designed for vans have a white, striped “access aisle” on the passenger side that is 96-inches-wide, allowing plenty of room for a ramp to deploy. Additionally, there are spots specially designed for vans with two-sided entry, with access aisles on both sides of the vehicle.

Accessible Parking Etiquette

While anyone with a valid handicap parking hangtag can park in a spot designed for vans without penalty, it is considered common courtesy to park in standard accessible spots unless you are driving a side entry minivan.

Did you know there are different kinds of accessible parking spots? Let us know your accessible parking etiquette tips on our Facebook.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers. Find a dealer near you: www.nmeda.com/dealerlocator

3 responses to “Accessible Parking Spots: Are They All the Same?

  1. We NEED more Handicap Parking Enforcement! It seems like everywhere I go, someone either partially or completely parks on the hash marks next to my mobility van! Last time it was at a casino where an elderly woman parked completely over the hash mark’s! I notified both the casino and the police! The casino has no towing policy & because it’s private property, the police had their hands tied so they could not even site her! This is absolutely ridiculous!

  2. I am a disabled driver. No wheelchair yet but I use a walker. I am so frustrated that almost all parking has the wide area, ramps, and no curns or parking concrete blocks only on the passenger side. I drive. I can’t walk very well or very far. Yet most places I have to walk around my car to get to ramps. Or try to hold onto my car while I attempt to get over concrete barriers or step up curbs. It seems to me all of the things that are designed to make parking accessible are only for disabled passengers NOT DISABLED DRIVERS. Unless you are rich enough to be able to afford either a chauffeur or a van and wheelchair.

  3. Oh I so wish you would expand on this. Many, many people have disabled parking signs for any number of reasons (won’t talk about those that misuse them on this comment…). They have a sense of entitlement which really bugs me. Let me explain. I get that many people can’t walk far so they have a plaque. Great. But when they go into a parking lot and there are open normal parking spots right next to the wider disabled spots, they feel an entitlement now that they can park in the disabled spots. They don’t have any equipment, just their bodies to remove from the car. BUT because they are now entitled, they take the disabled spot meaning a person like me with a wheelchair can’t use that spot and have to find other options, like taking 2 parking places to allow me enough room to get my chair out. I used to get harassed by notes, dirty looks, people yelling ect that I had taken 2 spots. This would happen even when they could clearly see me in a wheelchair! So I stickered up my van with signs like “This is how I roll”, wheelchair access so please leave space for my wheelchair. I am shocked that once I put these stickers on my van people stopped getting mad at me for taking 2 spots now. Most smiled and some even tell me how much they appreciate me doing it! So let me also share an experience. I was at a hotel and there was only 1 disabled spot by the door of the unit. There were several other open spots. Someone took the one spot so I was forced to finally find a spot on the street (down a hill no less) to park. I really felt the parking lot too small for me to do my normal take 2 spots to park. As I am trying to haul my luggage up the hill to the door, the lady who had taken the spot, comes popping out of the building and sees me. She explains she really is disabled… I just said fine. As she watched me struggle, she said, well maybe not as disabled as you, so I will park in one of the other spots so you can have that spot to park in. I thanked her and the next several days went well with her parking in the open spot next to the disabled spot and me in the disabled spot. I really wish when they hand out the plaques that they would school people on etique and what that plaque really means.