Prangs up as parking space sizes fail to keep pace with bigger cars

Parking spaces are getting smaller.

\\\\\\ Cars are getting cleverer with self-parking functions. But parking spaces are becoming smaller. (Picture © Nissan)

As cars are getting bigger, parking spaces are staying the same size, prompting an increase in the number of people claiming for low-speed damage. According to new figures, Britain’s drivers are having to spend between £500million and £760m a year on repairs. 

New research by Halfords says more than two thirds of drivers have to spend more than £50 to repair the dings and dents inflicted by low-speed prangs in parking spaces. It believes the total cost to drivers is £500m a year. But car replacement company Accident Exchange believes the figure is closer to £760m a year. It claims the number of crashes in parking spaces have increased by 4 per cent since 2010. According to its figures, there are 1373 car park collisions every day and the average repair cost of a low speed collision comes to £1428.

Accident Exchange believes 22.78 per cent of Britain’s 2.2 million damage accidents every year are in car parks. Halfords says car door damage accounts for half of the reported claims while bumpers make up 14 per cent and wing mirrors 13 per cent. Both Halfords and Accident Exchange blames parking spaces for failing to keep pace with the ever expanding dimensions of our cars.

Regulations for parking spaces haven’t changed
Department for Transport guidelines dating back 20 years stipulate that the minimum width for car parking spaces is 1800mm. However, with its door mirrors folded, a BMW 3 Series model is 11mm wider than that. A current Ford Mondeo is 1885mm wide including its mirrors. In 1994, the first generation of Mondeo was 1750mm wide. The Volkswagen Golf has grown by a similar amount. The Golf MkI from 1974 was 1610mm wide. The current model is 1782mm wide.

Golf has grown, parking spaces have stayed the same size

My how you’ve grown! VW Golf MkI (left) next to latest MkVII. (Picture © Volkswagen)

When building garages, architects recommend leaving 500mm either side to make getting in and out of cars easy. Manoeuvring the latest Golf into the middle of a parking space leaves just 9mm on either side. Halfords paint protection expert David Howells said: “The majority of drivers blamed their scratches on inconsiderate drivers parking too close to them, but our research shows that the size of parking spaces is leaving them little choice.”

Critics say car park owners are keeping parking spaces narrow in order to cram more cars in and make more money, whether it’s from people paying to park or using their shops. The Halfords research found that supermarkets were regarded as the worst offenders: 38 per cent of drivers said their spaces were too small. Shopping centres were next with 29 per cent complaining about the size of their spaces and 18 per cent of drivers complained about railway station car parks.

More equipment, more safety, less visibility
Cars have grown for two reasons. Owners want ever more equipment such as air-conditioning, which today is standard fit on many models. And safety regulators have demanded more space between bumpers and what car makers call hard points, components such as the engine.

Liz Fisher of Accident Exchange said: “A contributory factor is that visibility from inside the cabin of new cars is compromised compared to older vehicles, which used far more glass and had lower sills and narrower pillars. That could be part of the explanation for the recent increase.”

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