West Midlands drivers are the worst in Britain for abusing the blue badge disabled parking system.
More than 90 per cent of disabled drivers in the region said they have suffered because of people abusing the system by borrowing passes off friends or relatives.
The new statistics, released by the Department for Transport today, showed more than 40 per cent of drivers thought borrowing blue badges more acceptable than double parking or parking on a kerb.
Paralympic gold medalist, Lee Pearson, from Leek, Staffordshire, one of 260,000 blue badge holders in the region, said he had experience of the problem and encouraged people to “pause before you park”.
“Life would be a lot more difficult without my blue badge. It means I can travel independently and get on with my daily life,” he said. “Borrowing or misusing a blue badge isn’t just an inconvenience, but can stop badge holders like me from living our lives,” he said.
Mr Pearson, who won three equestrian gold medals in Beijing this year, added: “Ultimately misuse is a serious offence but it’s also totally unfair. As blue badge holders we have a part to play by not lending badges to friends or relatives. I urge everyone to respect blue badges and not take away their benefits from those who rely on them.”
Irene Wright, director of the Birmingham Disability Resource Centre and chairman of the city’s access committee, said: “It is a big problem. A lot of disabled people are very active and often find they can’t get out and about because there are no spaces for them to park when they get to places.
“Obviously a lot of disabled people use walking sticks or wheelchairs and they just cannot walk very far. A lot of people find, because all of the spaces are taken by people falsely using blue badges, they can’t get a space near enough where they need to go. In a lot of cases it’s enough to stop them bothering to go out at all,” she said.
One in ten people questioned by the Department of Transport said they would lend a blue badge to a friend or relative.
Irene Wright said she would like to see a crackdown on people abusing the system as well as making people more aware of the problem.
“A lot of people just don’t realise,” she said. “They don’t really see it as a problem using the badge.
“If a few people were highlighted then people would realise that this really is a problem and you can get into quite a bit of trouble.”