Parking space prangs leave insurers feeling the pinch
Should car parking spaces be made bigger?
If you’ve ever opened your car door in a car park and struggled to get out because the car next to you is too close, you won’t be surprised to hear that today’s parking spaces really are too small for today’s cars.
Recent reports confirm that not only have cars increased in size substantially over the last 15 years, but that the number of collisions in car parks has increased by 35% in the last two years alone. With the average repair bill for parking related incidents amounting to £2,050, insurers are feeling the pinch too, and costs are inevitably being passed along to motorists.
Car parks designed for obsolete cars
Many of our country’s car parks originate from a time in the 1960s and 70s when cars were smaller and so were parking spaces. Little has changed in the world of car parks since then. The average parking space has a recommended size of 4.8m x 2.4m, even though some SUVs can be over 5 metres in length and 2 metres wide.
Cars are growing in size
Some of this can be attributed to the fact that big SUVs have sky-rocketed in popularity in recent years, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Even smaller cars that have been familiar to us for many years have increased in size. The Vauxhall Corsa has increased in size by 15% over a 15 year period, whereas the Ford Mondeo is currently 12% bigger than it was in 1993.
Increase in car park accidents
Squeezing too big a car in to too small a space inevitably leads to scrapes. Recent research by the RAC suggests that 45% of motorists have had their car bumped at least once when parked in a car park, with up to two thirds experiencing at least some kind of damage. To add to the problem, only 9% of respondents said that the perpetrator had owned up to the damage or left a note in the window.
Increasing parking spaces vs need for more spaces
A survey by the AA concluded that 90% of its members who responded would like to see an increase in the size of parking spaces, but just try and find a place to park during peak shopping periods and you will know that there is also a need for many more parking spaces. NCP has admitted to this trade-off, citing that it has increased the size of parking spaces in some of its car parks, but that it has to balance this with the ever-growing demand for more spaces.
Environmentalists such as Greenpeace feel that we are looking at this problem from the wrong angle. By accommodating increasingly bigger cars, we are ignoring the need to reward drivers for choosing smaller, more efficient cars over bigger ‘gas-guzzlers’.
The future of car parking
Possible solutions to this problem range from changing the angle of the spaces to robotic car parks.
Angled car parking spaces in a herringbone fashion may not increase the size of the parking space by much, but entry and exit is easier and reduces the chances of an accident.
A more complex solution could be an automated car park, such as the one which has been implemented at Düsseldorf airport, which scoops up your car and stacks it safely until it’s needed again. A similar solution has been developed in New Jersey by Unitronics, where an automated car park shoehorns cars in with lower head heights and tight packing.