Accident Exchange: Car park incidents cause £175m worth of damage each year
Every year there are approximately 125,000 general car park incidents, peaking in 2011 with 130,750 shunts annually or 358 every day.
The average cost for car body and mechanical repairs resulting from car park collisions is £1,428.
Most incidents are the result of low speed manoeuvres in relatively cramped car parks, with damage ranging from front and rear-end collisions to bumps to doors, buckled wheels and burst tyres.
As average vehicle sizes get bigger, the minimum requirement for parking space dimensions has changed little in the last few decades. A survey of off-street parking spaces by Accident Exchange found that cars have to fit into bays not much wider than the average vehicle dimension.
For example, the original VW Golf Mk1 was 3.71m x 1.61m whilst the current Mk6 Golf is 4.19m x 1.78m, a 25% bigger footprint. The current Ford Fiesta is also about 25% bigger than the first generation 1976 model.
Larger vehicles are now squeezing into parking spaces of only 237.5cm in width – the average car park space size – leaving a Golf driver with only 29.8cm either side.
There were an estimated 2.5m accidents on UK roads in 2011. The Accident Exchange analysis reveals that general car park incidents represent around 5 per cent of the total.
Lee Woodley of Accident Exchange said: ‘Car parks are never particularly easy to navigate through, particularly when forced to traverse several levels up and down.
‘Mostly they are very confined and people are in a rush so there’s no let up in the number of incidents that take place every year. There’s no in-car technology at present that will halt accidents like this but automated braking systems could be the answer.
‘However, some technology could be making matters worse. In some situations, our over reliance on gadgets like parking sensors could be making us less good drivers.
‘Thankfully, most of the incidents we come across involve low speeds, which means injuries are very rare,’ he added.
The Accident Exchange research was based on 68,963 incidents handled between 2010 and July 2012.