Representative Larry Miller (R-122), who represents a small portion of Trumbull, introduced a bill that would provide temporary parking permits for pregnant women who are in their last trimester and are wishing to park a vehicle in a parking space designated for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities. He said a similar measure passed in New York.
“I think most people can recognize that pregnancy can be a challenge, and that mobility can become difficult for some women, especially in their third trimester,” said Miller. “I am certainly not suggesting that pregnancy is a disability — but I think it would be good policy to have the option available to women who choose to. They could apply to their doctor for a note to provide a temporary parking permit while they are pregnant.”
The bill, HB 5123, An Act Concerning the Issuance of Temporary Parking Permits Allowing Pregnant Women to Park in Spaces Designated for Persons Who are Blind or Persons With Disabilities, came before the legislature’s transportation committee Feb. 20, and Miller was on hand to speak on behalf of his proposal.
Miller said this bill is something that could make life a little easier for pregnant women. “I would hate to think that we would require a pregnant woman to walk across a busy icy parking lot, creating a real risk that is totally unnecessary,” said Miller. “Consequences of a serious fall could be very significant to mother and child. We should try to minimize the likelihood of such incidences taking place, and this bill could reduce that hazard.”
Miller added that in addition to the closer proximity of the handicapped space to the person’s destination, the size of the space makes a difference also. “Just the fact that these parking spaces are wider than normal parking spaces can make a real difference in the ability of someone who is eight or nine months along in being able to comfortably exit their vehicle,” he said.
“I’m not aware of any study that demonstrates how many handicapped spaces are used at a given time at given locations, and it would be a very difficult thing to quantify,” said Miller in an email to Hersam Acorn Newspapers. “It’s my experience that at most of the large stores and places of businesses I have gone there are routinely many of these spaces empty. The state of New York passed a similar measure and in the first year had only 17 applicants, so it’s difficult to imagine that this would result in a large-scale influx of new temporary permits that might displace disabled drivers. There are certainly bound to be plenty of pregnant women who choose not to avail themselves of the permit, but it would be available in the event that they do.”