From the grocery store to work, school and everywhere else in between, accessible parking spots are something we see each and every day. But how closely have you looked at them? If you are a wheelchair accessible vehicle driver, maybe you have looked at handicapped spots closer than most. Did you know that there are different kinds of accessible parking spaces designated for different types of vehicles? Here’s your guide to accessible parking, anywhere you go.

Accessible Parking Spaces for Cars

The most common of handicap accessible parking spots, these spaces are designed for standard vehicles, including sedans, SUVs and vans without ramps or lifts to deploy. These spots are clearly marked with a sign—the easily recognizable blue and white icon—and have at least a 60-inch-wide aisle easily accessible from the space so a person in a wheelchair can enter or exit the vehicle without issue.

Accessible Parking for Vans with Side Entry

For drivers or passengers with disabilities riding in a minivan equipped with a side entry conversion, extra room is necessary to safely enter and exit the vehicle through the use of a ramp. Parking spaces designed for vans have a white, striped “access aisle” on the passenger side that is 96-inches-wide, allowing plenty of room for a ramp to deploy. Additionally, there are spots specially designed for vans with two-sided entry, with access aisles on both sides of the vehicle.

Accessible Parking Etiquette

While anyone with a valid handicap parking hangtag can park in a spot designed for vans without penalty, it is considered common courtesy to park in standard accessible spots unless you are driving a side entry minivan.

Did you know there are different kinds of accessible parking spots? Let us know your accessible parking etiquette tips on our Facebook.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers.

2 responses to “Accessible Parking Spots: Are They All the Same?

  1. I see handicap parking at such places as Costco but there seems to be a shortage of van accessible spots if any in Winnipeg. My wife due to cancer treatments has difficulty walking and can’t walk long distances so she needs a handicap spot. I witness many vehicles with the handicap sign and am quite sure the majority of the users either borrow it or don’t need a handicap sign.
    Van accessible spots should be reserved for people in wheelchairs and not for someone to get a close spot to the door.
    Even 55+ apartment’s don’t know what a van accessible spot is.

  2. Yes, it is common courtesy to leave the van spots for vans when possible, and I try to when possible, except however it is not always possible when you need extra space to open the door “all the way” to get in and out of a vehicle. Then I use the space I need regardless, as not everyone who needs the space a van accessible space gives you also needs a wheelchair lift to get in and out of a vehicle. So be courteous to *everyone* and realize we are all different with various needs.