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Car parks are a tight fit for big SUVs

An increasing number of new cars are getting too big for Britain’s parking spaces, leading to an increase in parking-related accidents.

The popularity of big SUVs, such as the BMW X5 and Audi Q7, is a possible factor in the 35% surge in parking prangs costing £1.4bn per year, according to accident aftercare specialist Accident Exchange.

Some car parks are now ‘no-go’ areas as 87% of councils use outdated government guidelines of 4.8 x 2.4 metres, even though large SUVs measure as much as 5.0 x 2.0 metres. There’s also the added challenge of pillars and tight ramps in multi-storey car parks.

It’s not just the popularity of SUVs which is impacting the average size of vehicles, smaller cars are significantly larger than their counterparts just 15 years ago.

Car parking incidents now account for more than 30% of all accidents, says Accident Exchange, which assists vehicle manufacturers and dealerships in keeping motorists mobile in the event of an accident.

It is now estimated that there are over 675,000 car parking collisions of this type annually – a staggering 1,859 every day. And with an average bill of £2,050 to repair accident-damaged vehicles, that’s serious money.

“Drivers are having to squeeze increasingly large cars into spaces that generally haven’t got any larger for a very long time,” explained Scott Hamilton-Cooper of Accident Exchange.

“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.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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