Under a new law that took effect in January, South Carolina has joined other states in taking a simple, smart step to curb the fraudulent use of handicapped parking placards by able-bodied jerks.
The new South Carolina placard includes a small photo of the handicapped person to whom the placard was issued.
The photo makes it more difficult for, say, a handicapped person's lazy nephew to get away with abusing handicapped parking privileges in commercial parking lots and on-street parking spots.
This looks like a good idea for North Carolina to consider. It could help free up handicapped spaces near mall entrances for the people who need them. It could reduce the numbers of non-handicapped slugs who park on the street all day in downtown Raleigh.
North Carolina recently changed the law slightly, to provide larger type for the placard expiration date. That's a tiny, timid improvement.
While we wait for our legislators to really strengthen the law, there's something our DMV could do on its own: Publish simple, clear information that spells out who can use handicapped parking placards -- and who can't.
Here's how the South Carolina DMV explains this in brochures and on its website:
[Vehicles displaying a disabled license plate or placard may only park in designated spaces if that vehicle is driven by or is transporting the disabled individual whose name appears on the license plate registration certificate or placard certificate.]
One sentence. How hard is that?
Our DMV says it is struggling with the task of deciding what information to give people who get handicapped placards -- and it is worrying about where to find money to pay for this major project.
Meanwhile, here's what the North Carolina DMV tells motorists about how not to abuse handicapped parking placards:
No wonder our handicapped parking law is ignored by motorists, and by Raleigh police.