I don’t know if its just me, or has anyone else noticed the seemingly increasing number of disability tags dangling from vehicle window mirrors while the vehicles are in operation? I happened to examine one of these tags ( an elderly relative) closely and a note indicates that the tag should not be displayed while driving. I am not quite sure what this increase of dangling tags means because I am hard pressed to be convinced that everyone I see who sports such a tag, is legitimately ‘disabled’ based on the criteria set forth by the information that is included with the tags---as to what actually constitutes a disability.
I have witnessed many younger people driving vehicles around sporting these tags, parking the vehicle conveniently close to places like grocery stores, banks, etc---and then step out of the vehicle looking healthier than many people who have parked much farther away---only to jog to the front doors! Well, I hate to be so judgmental---AND, I will consider the possibility that perhaps its someone’s 80 year old Grandma’s car? Sure, that must be it; Her tripped out--hard to get in and out of--Escalade with an audio system loud enough to set of seismic activity in the mid oceanic ridge. But still, I thought only the person to whom the tag was issued to had the permission to use it.
Maybe the increase in tags being displayed means that there has been some sort of subculture nobility statement thing going on that takes pride in being sick or disabled? Maybe the increase in the tags is some sort of fashion statement and people chose to dangle them from the mirror while driving as though they were some sort of air freshener? Is it perhaps they're proud of the tags and display them like some sort of Purple Heart Award?.....
OR, maybe we are just seeing this privilege abused because it is hardly watch-dogged?
I did some poking around and discovered that it is fairly easy to obtain a disability tag in Ohio. Just go get a Dr. to sign off on just what you claim ails you and POOF!…you have the pass to valet parking! Grandma’s tripped out Escalade with the revolving hubcaps never had it so good!
What are people considering a “disability” these days? I know what the rules on the disability tags state, but I will get to that in a moment. Have we broadened the scope of being disabled so widely that the criteria now includes being considered disabled because someone is too fat to walk 50 feet? Maybe in this situation it should be considered an "obese-ability" and NOT a disability! Are we including a stubbed toe, a sore foot, or a common seasonal allergy….or laziness? Maybe it’s an extreme mental disability, but if that is the case, perhaps you shouldn’t be driving in the first place!
Whatever the case, it seems that the amount of spaces available for the “disabled” has grown to small army-like proportions--and I have unfortunately witnessed many people who could have legitimately benefited from a close parking space--have to opt otherwise because of someone who clearly could have walked the extra yardage to a front door!
Now I will include the “disability” criteria as mandated by Ohio Revised Code Section: 4503.44
1. Cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
2. Cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, a cane, a crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistance service.
3. Is restricted by a lung disease to such an extent that the person’s forced (respiratory) expiratory volume, for one second, when measured by pyrometer, is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than sixty millimeters on room air at rest.
4. Uses portable oxygen
5. Has cardiac condition to the extent that a person’s functional limitations are classified as severity as class III or class IV according to standards set by the American heart Association.
6. Is severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
7. Is blind
Based on the above criteria, I have concluded that from what I have witnessed repeatedly, there is wide spread abuse of these tags. Clearly many are not fitting the bill of being truly disabled according to what the law says--and instead chose to display these tags with pride. If our state is this abundant in sick and disabled people, it is not something we should be proud of. It actually is quite disturbing. Maybe we should do what the tag tells us and not don it unless the car is actually parked--Or, start paying attention to the obvious abuse of this system so as to not compromise the lives of those who actually need this tag.
I want to footnote this article as of 5/26/10
It occurs to me from personal experiences with many people that those who are truly unable to walk are very proud people---but not so proud as to boast that they are disabled. They want to try as much as they can to walk as long as they are able...and therefore generally do not go around boasting a disability label on their head. Could all this be a by-product of the difficulty to strive for better these days that it easier to make all that is pathetic look acceptable by lowering standards to meet the underachievement of our populace?