Measures to crack down on drivers who abuse the disabled parking system will come into force from January 1, the Government has announced.
They will include a new Blue Badge design which is harder to forge, said Transport Minister Norman Baker.
Blue Badge fraud is estimated to cost the UK £46m a year and reform of the system was seen as urgently needed. The badges provide a vital lifeline to more than 2.5 million disabled people every year by prioritising key parking spaces close to important services. However, increasing levels of fraud have meant those spaces are often full.
Previously, Blue Badges were made from card and hand written, but from January 1 disabled drivers will be able to apply for an electronically printed badge, much like a driving licence. The new badge will have security features such as a unique hologram, digital photo and serial number allowing parking attendants to check for genuine badges more easily through the windscreen.
Other measures being introduced from January 1 include the ability of badge holders to apply for renewals online. Mr Baker said: “Motorists who pretend to be disabled to get some free parking are frankly disgraceful.
“They prevent real Blue Badge holders from using parking bays designed for those genuinely in need and they cheat the vast majority of road users who play fair when they park. Our new Blue Badge will be as secure as a banknote and anyone thinking of faking it can forget it.”
Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns at Disabled Motoring UK, said: “After years of campaigning for improvements to the Blue Badge scheme, I’m delighted that changes that make the scheme fit for the 21st century have been introduced.”
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