Parking: The Hidden Cost of Driving Revealed

Parking: The Hidden Cost of Driving Revealed

By combining our expertise in parking, traffic and big data analytics, INRIX Research produced the world’s first study that calculated the total cost of driving.

For the first time, INRIX has combined the everyday, common driving costs such as car payments, insurance, fuel, maintenance and taxes with the lesser well-known, hidden costs of owning a car, like wasted time sitting in traffic or looking for parking, parking fines and overpayments.

Across the 30 cities studied in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, one fact is clear: the hidden cost of driving is staggering – but a problem that awareness and technology can help alleviate.

In 2017, the average U.S. driver faced the highest total driving cost of $10,288 (55% more than the average U.K. driver and 14% more than the average German driver) and drove the most (US: 13,467 miles, Ger: 8,709 miles and UK: 6,865 miles). Yet surprisingly, on a per mile basis, UK drivers spent 35% more on driving than Americans and 6% more than Germans.


Direct Costs

Indirect Costs

Total Cost of Driving

Car Ownership
Parking Pain
U.S. $5,645 $1,607 $1,642 $1,394 $10,288
U.K. $4,260 $1,244 $1,398 $1,337 $8,239
Germany $4,3767 $1,062 $2,347 $1,556 $9,341

Parking Is A Major Contributor

While the true cost of driving was surprising, the impact of parking – both direct and indirect costs – was alarming, accounting for a third of the total cost of vehicle ownership across all three countries. On average, American drivers spent more than $3,000 last year on parking-related costs, compared to $2,600 for German drivers and $2,500 for British drivers. Although Americans spent more on direct parking costs (e.g. filling meters or buying a permit), Germans were hit the hardest by the hidden costs. At INRIX we call the latter ‘Parking Pain’ because drivers get nothing in return. Drivers waste time and fuel searching for that elusive parking spot, and the waste money overpaying for parking (like when a lot has a 2-hour rate but you only need 30 minutes), but the most painful of all – the dreaded parking fine.

One of the most surprising findings was that the hidden cost of driving represented close to half (42%) of the total cost of ownership for German drivers, and roughly a third for U.K (33%) and U.S. (30%) drivers.

The good news is that many of these hidden costs can be eased by awareness and technology. Smart parking solutions in connected cars and on mobile devices, can be leveraged to reduce how long it takes to find parking, saving time and fuel. INRIX Parking helps drivers search for parking based on cost, location and availability, and lets drivers reserve and pay for parking directly from their dashboard or device. INRIX currently provides parking services to industry leaders such as BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Microsoft Bing and Waze, as well as transport agencies around the world.

Find out more about how INRIX helps automakers and cities tackle the parking problem and helps reduce the burden on drivers here.


INRIX smart parking solutions get real-time parking information to drivers on the go, curbing traffic before it starts. INRIX Parking also provides cities with actionable information they can use to improve parking management and policies. 

We engage cities, automakers, private parking operators, and parking equipment makers to create the ultimate parking experience for drivers. By combining raw data from existing parking infrastructure with acquired data from more than 300 million connected devices, we can guide drivers to the best available parking options.