A common problem for many disabled motorists is not being able to park at their desired destination, especially at their local supermarket. The major complaint is that the disabled bays are all occupied with cars not displaying a Blue Badge.

Disabled Motoring UK first launched its Baywatch Campaign in 2002. This campaign researches the level of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets, by asking disabled motorists to survey their local supermarket car park. Specifically, they count how many disabled bays are provided and how many cars that are parked in them without displaying a Blue Badge. The other information asked is details of the type of enforcement (if any) carried out by the parking operator responsible for the car park. Details of the operator and enforcement should be displayed on the signage near the disabled bays.

2017 Results

The big four supermarkets, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda, had the largest number of surveys returned, with additional responses coming from shoppers of  Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Co-Op and M&S. It was a good sample to see how much abuse occurs across a broad range of supermarkets. However, it is hard to draw comparisons between the stores when the likes of Tesco had many more surveys than Aldi who only had a handful returned.

Overall disabled parking abuse came in at 18.5% across all of the supermarkets surveyed. Where enforcement was used this figure fell to 15.6% and where no enforcement was evident the overall level of abuse rose to 21.5%. Unsurprisingly, the supermarket that had the lowest level of abuse across all surveys Disabled Motoring UK received reported that enforcement took place in all of their store car parks. This supermarket was Sainsbury’s, with a disabled parking abuse level of 8%.

The winner

DMUK would like to highlight that Sainsbury’s came in with the lowest levels of abuse and would like to congratulate them on supporting their disabled customers. All of their stores that were surveyed reported that there was signage indicating that enforcement of their disabled bays took place. This suggests that enforcement is the key in reducing abuse of disabled bays. Disabled Motoring would also encourage all supermarkets to follow Sainsbury’s lead by using enforcement in all of their store car parks.

Enforcement comparisons

Tesco had by far the largest number of surveys returned with an average of disabled bay abuse at 23.2%. At the end of 2016 Tesco announced that they were introducing enforcement if disabled bays at their stores. They have employed car park operators and the system works by a member of Tesco staff photographing offenders, sending an image to the operator and the operator then issuing a ticket. Of the Tesco surveys returned just over half reported signage that said they enforce their disabled bays. Looking at just the statistics for Tesco, overall the average of abuse was 23.2%, but when compared to the average for the Tesco stores that used enforcement this figure fell to 16.9%, and looking at just the Tesco stores that currently don’t enforce this figure rose to 27.7%. These figures clearly suggest that enforcement lowers the level of disabled parking abuse. Disabled Motoring UK would encourage Tesco to roll out enforcement to all of their stores.

DMUK can draw similar comparisons when also looking at the statistics for Morrisons and Asda. The average level of abuse at Morrisons was 11.4%. When the figures were separated abuse in car parks that enforced the bays the figure dropped to 10.7% and it rose to 11.7% in Morrisons car parks that didn’t enforce. Average levels of abuse at Asda was 16.1% which again fell to 13.7% when in Asda car parks that used enforcement. Only three Asda car parks were reported as not using enforcement, in these car parks the level of abuse rose to 32.1%.

The figures for the big four supermarkets all show a decrease in abuse when enforcement of disabled bays is used and the levels of abuse increased when it isn’t used.

This data helps DMUK to highlight the need for the Baywatch campaign to encourage supermarkets to enforce their disabled bays.

Supermarkets and the Disabled Parking Accreditation

The results from this year’s campaign show that Tesco was the worst performing of the big four supermarkets. However, they are the only supermarket which is currently looking to work with DMUK to improve their facilities by embracing their Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA). Tesco will be trialling the DMUK DPA at one of their Tesco Extra stores starting in September 2017 and if successful the trial will spread to more of their stores. This is a very positive step towards improving parking facilities for disabled motorists at supermarkets. DMUK will keep you updated on the progress of the trial over the coming months.

What’s next for Baywatch

DMUK have contacted the supermarkets surveyed and will encourage them to do more to enforce their disabled parking bays and take up the DPA if appropriate. Baywatch will return in 2019 and DMUK are hoping to see a further decrease in the levels of disabled parking abuse in supermarkets.

Supporting Organisations






There is still time to get involved, please contact the charity if you would like to be a supporting organisation.