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Parking spaces are increasingly too small for today’s cars says Churchill Motor Insurance





Parking spaces aren’t keeping up with dramatic increases in the size of new cars, says a report, which is leaving motorists squeezing themselves in and out of their vehicles.

And the issue, says insurance company Churchill, is now costing drivers millions of pounds each year in damage claims as they scrape their cars attempting to park in bays being built to guidelines first issued in the 1970s.

Drivers, says the report, often have little room to get out. Image: iStock/VictorHuang.
Drivers, says the report, often have little room to get out. Image: iStock/VictorHuang.

Despite most vehicle makes and models regularly increasing in size, the space allocated to each parking space has failed to keep pace, claim motoring experts.

Drivers, says Churchill Motor Insurance, are often left with little more than the length of a cornflakes cereal box through which to slide through if parked alongside another vehicle.

Its study found that owners of the UK’s most popular cars have around 30cm of space either side to get in and out – with some drivers admitting to often climbing through the boot or another door in order to escape if they find themselves squeezed against their neighbour.

Many bays and spaces, says the report, are built to 1970s guidelines. Image: iStock.
Many bays and spaces, says the report, are built to 1970s guidelines. Image: iStock.

A typical family car, it says, now measures 180cm wide while guidelines issues by the British Parking Association, first released in the 1970s, recommend bays be 240cm across.

Squeezing cars in and out of narrow spaces is also coming at increasing costs – with an estimated £424 million worth of damage now being racked up every year as motorists scrape walls and bollards trying to fit. The average cost of a repair stood at £223.50.

The BMW Mini, Ford Puma, Kia Sportage and Vauxhall Corsa are among those, says the report, which have seen big increases in their size.

The Mini, says Churchill, has seen the biggest width increase, growing by 33cm since its launch in 1955, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, which has widened by 23cm since being first introduced in 1982.

Churchill says drivers are damaging their vehicles trying to squeeze in spaces. Image: iStock.
Churchill says drivers are damaging their vehicles trying to squeeze in spaces. Image: iStock.

On average cars are getting 1cm wider every two years, calculates clean transport campaign group Transport & Environment, which released its own findings in January.

More than half of new cars sold in 2023, says the group, were too wide for the minimum specified on-street parking space of 180cm, leaving road users competing for room.

A new report suggests new cars are now outgrowing UK parking spaces. Image: iStock.
A new report suggests new cars are now outgrowing UK parking spaces. Image: iStock.

Nicholas Mantel, Head of Churchill Motor Insurance which is behind the latest study, said: “Ask almost any driver and they will have a story about having to creatively escape their car due to a lack of space when in a car park, even crawling out through the boot.

“Widening cars combined with parking bays that haven’t been redesigned to accommodate today’s models, means motorists all over the country are at risk of damaging their cars through no fault of their own.”



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