It’s estimated that there are more than 1,000 low-speed collisions in car parks every day with the average repair bill topping £1,500.
Council car park spaces can legally be up to 8ft 10 in (270cm) wide, but most spaces these days are little wider than the minimum 7ft 6 (228.6cm) required. That means that a perfectly average Vauxhall Astra measuring just under 6ft wide has only nine inches of clearance on each side.
Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to take simple steps to avoid prangs while trying to park.
- Carry out a check of all your mirrors every time you get in your vehicle.
- Familiarise yourself with the length, height and width of your car.
- Don’t rush. Plan your journey to allow time for parking, then make sure you choose somewhere suitable and safe. When it comes to manoeuvring in, do everything slowly and carefully.
- If you have parking aids, cameras and warning buzzers fitted, make sure you understand them and can make good use of them.
- Unless there are signs specifically instructing how you should park, always aim to reverse into a space as it makes the start of your next journey much safer. However, this may not always be practical if you plan to fill the car boot with shopping bags.
- Make a plan when you’re ready to drive away from the space. How close are you to other vehicles? Pillars? Bollards? Walls? Kerbs? How tight will your turn need to be?
- If you sense someone else wants the same space, don’t turn it into a race or a fight.
- If you do need to reverse out of a space, be extra vigilant, and look very carefully for pedestrians and vehicles moving behind you.
“Although the repair costs are relatively modest compared with other, more serious knocks, there’s usually a negative effect on your insurance policy as well as the nuisance and down-time of needing a repair,” said GEM road safety officer Neil Worth. “If you’re tempted to keep putting off the repair, then your car’s resale value will plummet.”