Cars Have Grown Larger, Parking Lots Haven't: a Very Expensive Situation

If you live in a big(gish) city, then you're probably all too familiar with the situation where you leave your car in a car park or the side of the street, only to return and find one of its corners scratched, if not worse.
Parking space size issues 4 photos
Photo: Accident Exchange
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The urban setting means that you don't have to be a bad driver to have your car looking like it had an itch all over its body that just needed to be dealt with by scratching on various surfaces. Nope, just rely on the other bad drivers around you to do it for you.

But the car is your pride and joy, your most cherished possession, so even if you know the repairs won't last for long, the moment you notice a dent, it's off to the shop to have it fixed. That's how parking-related incidents are now accounting for 30 percent of Britain's total number of accidents, with the inherent repairs costing an alarming 1.4 billion Sterling Pounds (over $1.7 billion) a year.

That's a lot of money for what most of the time are no more than simple paint trades. However minor they are, in Britain, their number has increased by 35 percent since 2014, which has to beg the question "why?" Well, as in most cases, you can resort to simple mathematics to find the answer.

Research conducted by Accident Exchange has shown that the average size of a parking space in Britain is 4.8 long (15.74 feet) by 2.4 meters (7.54 feet) wide. That's because a lot of the car parks are either old or still use the outdated government guidelines regarding the size of a parking space.

The study also lists the size of several models currently on sale, and it should come as no surprise that most of the large SUVs sold in the UK are longer than the 4.8 meters recommended by the government. The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, for instance, exceeds that number by a full 25 cm (roughly 10 inches), while its 1.98 meters width means there is just 20 cm (about eight inches) left on either side of the car. Multiply that by two, and you're still left with quite a small gap to squeeze in and out of the car.

But it's not just the SUVs who are culpable. The Ford Mondeo (the European version of the Fusion) is also six centimeters (a bit over two inches) longer, while a compact hatchback like the Vauxhall Astra only leaves a 10 cm clearance (four inches). In fact, Accident Exchange noted that the Vauxhall Corsa, one of the most popular models in the UK, has grown by 16 percent over the past 15 years. The same trend can be observed on other cars as well.

The problem isn't as widely spread in the USA as in Europe, and it's all down to geography. Having more land at hand, the Americans have always used larger vehicles, so the infrastructure is built to cope with them. However, try driving a Ford Super Duty pickup truck through Manhattan...
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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