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Modern cars too big for Britain’s outdated parking spaces

Average car parking spaces in Britain are now too small to cope with larger vehicles, including family SUVs, leading to nearly £1.4bn of car park prangs every year.

Cars in car park

Parking-related incidents now account for more than 30% of all accidents, equating to 675,000 car parking collisions annually – or 1,859 every day

That’s according to data released by Accident Exchange as it warns of a 35% surge in parking prangs since 2014.

Research by the accident aftercare specialist of over 85,000 parking incidents finds that the average car park space is just 4.8 metres long and 2.4 wide. However, popular SUVs like the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class measure in at five metres plus, and nearly two metres wide.

Add in the challenges of pillars and tight ramps in multi-storey car parks and manoeuvring larger vehicles is now making some car parks ‘no-go’ areas for Britain’s motorists.

Yet even smaller vehicles like the Vauxhall Corsa are significantly larger than their counterparts just 15 years ago – 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.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.