The next time you arrive at your local supermarket for the weekly shop, take a few extra minutes to join a worthwhile cause. The Baywatch campaign is back and committed to cracking down on motorists who use disabled parking bays illegally. Now in its seventh year, the campaign is once again calling on eagle-eyed members of the public to investigate the levels of Blue Badge abuse throughout the UK.
The Baywatch campaign is an initiative started by the charity Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) and this year partnered by the British Parking Association. Blue Badge abuse is one of the biggest complaints from disabled drivers, according to research undertaken by the charity. The Baywatch campaign aims to encourage drivers to think about where they park and the impact their actions can have on the lives of those who really need to use the bays.
Attention was drawn to the issue in 2013 when a disabled driver died during a row over a disabled parking space at a supermarket in England. The incident caused many to question how much supermarkets were doing to police the issue and to keep drivers safe.
“There’s a real lack of understanding about how essential these bays are to disabled people”
Getting involved is simple. Throughout the month of June, motorists are asked to visit their local supermarket and complete a simple survey. Amongst other things, contributors are asked to record the number of disabled bays on offer, how many are being used by cars who aren’t displaying a Blue Badge and if there’s any signage informing drivers that the bays are being monitored. The results will be shared with supermarkets and they will be encouraged to work with DMUK to improve their facilities.
2019 is an especially significant year for the campaign with changes to the eligibility criteria due in August. This will make it easier for those with hidden disabilities to get their hands on a Blue Badge and there will likely be an increase in the number of badge holders.
This year’s campaign has gained the support of Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Tanni hopes that the initiative will raise awareness and help people understand how vital disabled parking bays are to those who need them. She spoke about her experience of Blue Badge abuse and her hope that this campaign will help turn the tide.
Tanni explains: “I often experience problems when trying to park at my local supermarket because Blue Badge parking bays are not enforced properly. There’s a real lack of understanding about how essential these bays are to disabled people.”
To get involved with the Baywatch campaign, visit www.disabledmotoring.org/baywatch to complete the survey online. Alternatively, paper copies can be requested from the DMUK office by calling 01508 489449.