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Cars are getting ‘too big’ for Britain’s parking spaces

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Britain’s car parking spaces are too small to cope with today’s vehicles, according to data released by accident aftercare specialist, Accident Exchange.

The average parking 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.

With the added challenge of pillars and tight ramps in multi-storey car parks, manoeuvring larger vehicles is now making some car parks ‘no-go’ areas for Britain’s motorists, claims Accident Exchange.

Its research suggests a 35% increase in parking prangs since 2014, with an average repair bill equating to £2,050. It is now estimated that there are over 675,000 car parking collisions of this type annually – a staggering 1,859 every day.

The SUV segment has enjoyed huge success in the UK, with figures in February alone revealing an 44% rise compared to the same month last year, which could be a factor in the rise in parking prangs.

And, it’s not just the popularity of SUVs which is impacting the average size of vehicles, smaller vehicles like the Vauxhall Corsa are significantly larger than their counterparts just 15 years ago.

The study, which measured the growth of some of the most popular vehicles in the UK, found that the latest Corsa had undergone the biggest change to its size over a 15-year period. The popular hatchback has expanded by 16%, a trend that persists across most vehicle segments.

Scott Hamilton-Cooper, director of operations at Accident Exchange, said: “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.”

Selection of large SUVs and vehicles


Length (metres)

Width (metres)

Avg. Parking Space**



Mercedes GL-Class



Audi Q7



Land Rover Discovery 5



Volvo XC90






Ford Edge



Volkswagen Touareg



Hyundai Santa Fe




Selection of popular hatchbacks


Length (metres)

Width (metres)

Avg. Parking Space*



Ford Mondeo



Vauxhall Astra



Ford Focus



VW Golf



Ford Fiesta



Vauxhall Corsa



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  • adam.morrison - 21/11/2016 11:19

    The problem with small parking spaces is further exacerbated by the sheer number of people who feel it acceptable to abandon their vehicles across multiple spaces in many car parks leaving spaces even smaller or completely unusable. Add this to those who park as close as physically possible to another vehicle in a car park so drivers and passengers can't get into their own vehicles and the problem is significantly multiplied.

  • Bianca Castafiore - 21/11/2016 13:54

    Is it only now that people are waking up to the fact that the car park spaces are still based around a typical early 70's Ford Escort? Look at each model of cars over the last 35 years - Ford, Vauxhall, VW etc, and each new model is bigger than the previous one! I've had Mondeos over the last 15 or so years and now have an Audi A6. These are company cars, but I treat them as my own, so yes, I am one of these people who park over the lines where possible, because over the years I've had my share of dings on the doors due to inconsiderate people parking next to me and opening doors. I don't go to supermarkets before 8pm either, because I can then avoid the 4x4 drivers, usually with a child seat. I must point out though, that my wife dispairs at the fact that I park so far away from the shops just to be able to do this! (My name isn't really Bianca by the way, and I'm a bloke!). Much as I would like to, I have never parked in a disabled space nor a child space other than when our son was small. Parking spaces should be made larger, and although I don't think I should be made to, I would be prepared to pay a premium such that the car is parked in a safer area to avoid the close proximity of thoughtless others who like to use the side of my car as a door stop! Add to the above the fact that the current styling of cars is to have smooth sides without any rubber protection strips. Renault or Citroen have a car on the market that has a huge rubber pad on the sides, which although functional makes the car look like it's covered in crocodile skin.....

  • Andy Titterton - 23/11/2016 10:57

    I agree with Bianca Castafiore, and what is said makes good sense.

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