18th July 2017

Could parking frustrations be hindering the UK economy?

Have a guess at how many working days the average UK motorist wastes each year hunting for parking spaces? According to a survey by traffic update provider, Inrix, the answer startlingly tots up to just shy of six business days – 44 hours to be precise.

In London, the figure actually comes to a whopping 67 hours of lost time, much of which could be spent more productively, particularly for business drivers. And it’s not just time that gets wasted, as trawling streets to find parking also costs a typical driver £722 and a London motorist £1,104 in unnecessary fuel and emissions. Collectively, that’s over £30 billion each year in time down the drain, which admittedly includes parking tickets and overpayments by understandably cautious motorists who don’t want to be greeted by yellow penalty notices on their return.

Parking has long been a contentious issue for UK drivers, who were recently described by the Telegraph as “wallets on wheels” after it was unearthed that nearly two-thirds of councils have cut the money they spend on road improvements at the same time as they’ve hiked up parking tariffs2.

Inrix’s study identified that 40% of respondents state that they avoid driving to high street shops due to a lack of parking spaces in the vicinity, so the issue certainly proves damaging for independent retailers, who are already being pushed to the wall by out-of-town retail parks. It’s also not uncommon for out-of-town shopping centres to themselves impose parking charges, probably leading to a number of people ditching the whole real life shopping experience altogether in favour of online retailers and courier services.

Inrix believes technology is a large part of the answer, but yourparkingspace.co.uk, an online parking marketplace, reckons a much simpler and very effective answer exists – during summer months, at least3.

Schools rent parking spaces holidays business UK economy telematics motoring blog

The website’s MD, Harrison Woods, commented: “Cash-strapped schools in the right locations are potentially sitting on a parking goldmine. With budget restraints hitting hard on the public purse strings, this could be the ideal way to earn additional revenue from land that is effectively vacant for six weeks or more.”

We think this is a brilliant concept, schools located near to town centres, train stations and offices opening up their empty car parks to business and private motorists, saving the all too common situation of having to drive around what seems like endlessly to find a space. It’s a win-win idea, as the £10.5 million that yourparkingspace.co.uk believes could potentially be raised would benefit schools immensely, whilst concurrently making business more efficient.

An angle of the UK’s parking angst that isn’t mentioned by any of these organisations is the way in which it leaves many drivers feeling angry and stressed. These are hardly helpful ways to be feeling in the moments before a potentially important business meeting and the ensuing rush could also lead to business drivers regrettably leaving important documents behind in their vehicles by mistake. Worse, it could even result in accidents.

While we clearly wish to see traffic volumes, congestion and harmful air pollution reduced, it’s fair to say that the UK’s public transport network isn’t particularly efficient for businesspeople to rely on in today’s busy society. Until driverless cars bring about highly efficient traffic flows largely free from accidents, any outside the box parking initiatives are therefore to be welcomed.