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Study confirms modern cars too big for parking spaces

Research has revealed that Britain’s car parking spaces are too small to cope with the UK's love affair with big family SUVs.

Accident aftercare specialist - Accident Exchange - examined over 85,000 incidents on its database between mid-2013 and August 2016 and found that  – with the average parking space just 4.8 metres long and 2.4 wide – nearly 31% of accidents recorded were parking-related, costing an estimated £1.4bn every year.

Popular SUVs like the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class measure at least five metres long, and nearly two metres wide. With the added challenge of pillars and tight ramps in multi-storey car parks, manoeuvring larger vehicles is now making some car parks ‘no-go’ areas for Britain’s motorists.

The research undertaken by Accident Exchange estimated a 35 per cent increase in parking prangs since 2014, and the rise of SUVs could be a factor. With an average bill of £2,050 to repair accident-damaged vehicles, it's estimated that there are over 675,000 car parking collisions annually – 1,859 every day.

The SUV segment has enjoyed huge success in the UK, with figures in February alone revealing an 44% rise compared to the same month last year, which could be a factor in the rise in parking prangs - despite packing technology to avoid accidents.

It’s not just the popularity of SUVs which is impacting the average size of vehicles, smaller vehicles like the Vauxhall Corsa are significantly larger than their counterparts just 15 years ago.

Accident Exchange conducted research to measure vehicles’ lengths and widths across manufacturers and makes, which measured the growth of some of the most popular vehicles in the UK, found that the latest Corsa had undergone the biggest change to its size over a 15-year period. The popular hatchback has expanded by 16%, a trend that persists across most vehicle segments.

Scott Hamilton-Cooper, Director of Operations at Accident Exchange, commented; “Drivers are having to squeeze increasingly large cars into spaces that generally haven’t got any larger for a very long time. Almost all of the councils we researched carried over the government’s recommendation, which makes things tight for large cars. This could be contributing to the rise in car parking incidents we are seeing. Manufacturers follow the market, and so cars are outgrowing parking spaces. 

“Not only are popular SUVs usurping smaller hatchbacks when it comes to new cars sales, older smaller cars are being taken off the street. The undoubted success of the SUV segment will have played its part – perhaps the roads aren’t quite ready for them because some drivers feel certain car parks are no-go areas due the sheer length and width of their cars.”