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Why parking your car has become a tight squeeze

Have you ever struggled to squeeze your car into a space in the car park? Frustrating, isn't it? While this used to be caused by other people's bad parking, it seems it could now be due to the size of the parking space.

Parallel parking animation
By Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons,
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

For decades the average car parking space in the UK has been set at 4.8m x 2.4m. But the popularity of larger cars and SUVs has soared in recent years and even smaller vehicles like the Vauxhall Corsa are significantly larger than they were. In fact, the Daily Telegraph reports that popular hatchback models have increased in size by an average 16% in the last 15 years. Most family cars now measure close to, or more than, 5 metres.

Add that to the fact that many car parks come with the extra stress of concrete pillars and tight ramps, it's easy to see why some of them have become unusable.

Bigger cars equal more accidents

A recent report by claims firm Accident Exchange says parking-related incidents now account for more than 30% of all accident claims, and the average individual repair bill is just over £2000. Their research estimates there's been a 35% increase in parking accidents since 2014, at a cost of about £1.4bn to UK insurers per year.

The UK's largest car park provider recently stated spaces are being made bigger to meet the demands of larger cars and 4x4s. They're working hard to address the issue, having already widened some bays in London, Manchester and Bournemouth.

How to reverse parallel park:

  • Line the back of your car with the back of the car in front of the space.
  • While stationary, turn your steering wheel all the way to the left
  • Check all your mirrors and blind spots and keep checking them as you slowly start to reverse
  • Stop when the front left corner of the car behind you is in the middle of your rear windscreen
  • While stationary, turn your steering wheel back to the middle position
  • Slowly reverse until your front bumper clears the car in front and stop
  • While stationary, turn your steering wheel all the way to the right
  • Slowly reverse as your car straightens out.

How to avoid car parks

Some people will avoid parallel parking at all costs, preferring to take the risk of parking in a car park. But learning how to parallel park properly will certainly give you more options.

The best way to get good at parallel parking is, quite simply, practice. If you're just learning, try to find quieter roads, where you're less likely to get pressure from other drivers. There is plenty of advice to help you master the best technique; you could even invest in a parking sensor to help you park perfectly.

Make sure you're covered

Regardless of what sized car you drive, it's important to make sure your insurance policy is fully up-to-date and that you have the correct insurance in place, should your car get damaged.

All information is correct at time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.

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