A growing number of new cars are getting too big for British parking spaces, leading to an increase in parking-related accidents.
According to data released by accident aftercare specialist Accident Exchange, car parking prangs have cost British motorists £1.4 billion in the past 12 months, representing 30.85% of claims recorded by the company.
This is an increase of nearly 8% on the same period from the year before, leading to suggestions that the growth in car sizes and slow response of car parks to cater for them is to blame.
However, Britain's biggest car parking operator National Car Parks (NCP) has now said that it is increasing the size of spaces in several major cities, including Manchester, Bournemouth and London. An NCP spokesperson told The Times "We are moving towards making the bays wider as we recognise that vehicles are growing in size, especially SUVs. Going forward, it is our intention to provide bigger parking bays wherever possible to do so."
This means the NCP spaces are larger than the Government's recommended sizes, which were created in 1987 when the average car was significantly smaller.
Large SUV models such as the Mercedes GLS (pictured below) and Audi Q7 measure more than five metres in length, exceeding the government’s recommended length for a British car parking space, which is 4800mm, by more than 200mm. Even common models such as the 4871mm-long Ford Mondeo and 4842mm Vauxhall Insignia exceed this guideline size.
The government’s recommendation for 2.4m-wide wide parking spaces also leaves occupants with little room to squeeze out of their cars. A Volvo XC90 is 2008mm wide, so if it's parked between two other cars, occupants would have less than 20cm of room on each side to get out. This, suggests Accident Exchange, is increasing the number of door prangs.
Accident Exchange found that 87% of UK councils stick to the car parking space guidelines, emphasising the scale of the problem.
Scott Hamilton-Cooper, director of operations at Accident Exchange, said: “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.”