Searching for Parking Costs the UK £23.3 Billion a Year


INRIX today published a major new study that combines data from the INRIX Parking database of 100,000 locations across 8,700 cities in more than 100 countries, with results from a recent survey of nearly 18,000 drivers in the US, UK and Germany, including 7,035 in 10 UK cities. With the goal of analysing and ranking the economic costs of “parking pain,” INRIX found that, on average, UK drivers spend 44 hours a year searching for the elusive space at a cost of £733 per driver in wasted time, fuel and emissions and the country as a whole £23.3 billion.

INRIX analysed parking pain in 10 of the UK’s largest cities, with London ranking as the worst city to find parking. On average, drivers in the capital spend 67 hours a year searching for a spot, costing them £1,104 each in wasted time, fuel and emissions and the city as a whole £4.3 billion. Belfast came second (56 hours – £134m), followed by Leeds (47 hours – £297m), Bristol (46 hours – £169m), Birmingham (46 hours – £373m), Cardiff (44 hours – £126m), Manchester (41 hours – £169m), Glasgow (40 hours – £226m), Edinburgh (38 hours – £167m) and Southampton (35 hours – £98m).

Table 1: INRIX Parking Ranking (UK) – Hours Spent Searching for Parking

Table 1

If we add up all the costs in this research, so the time spent searching for a space, the amount drivers overpay for parking and the amount spent in fines, the “total” cost of parking pain in the UK is more than £30 billion a year,” said Dr Graham Cookson, Chief Economist, INRIX. “This cost is not only borne by drivers but also by local economies as people avoid shops due to parking issues. While 71% of drivers said there isn’t enough parking available, occupancy for spaces can be as low as 50%. We have an information problem more than a parking problem. A problem that technology can help fix.”

British Motorists Spend Billions Overpaying for Parking

The survey asked drivers how much extra time they typically add to a parking session to avoid a penalty charge. In the UK, drivers add, on average, an extra 45 hours a year when paying for parking. When combined with INRIX parking rate data, overpaying for parking is estimated to cost up to £6.7 billion annually or £209 per driver. Drivers in London add the most extra time, averaging 67 hours a year, which is estimated to cost the capital’s motorists up to an additional £1.5 billion or £380 each.

UK Drivers Pay £1.2bn Annually in Parking Fines

No analysis of parking pain would be complete without understanding what drivers pay in fines. The survey asked how many parking tickets motorists received annually. The average across the UK is 0.7, which amounts to £39 per driver per year in fines or £1.2 billion for all drivers. Londoners claim to receive the most tickets and therefore pay the most in fines (£284m), with drivers in Birmingham (£8m), Leeds (£6m) and Glasgow (£6m) also paying high amounts in penalty charges.

Table 2: INRIX Parking Ranking (UK) – Extra Time for Parking Sessions and Parking Fines

table 2

High Streets Bear the Brunt of Parking Pain as 40% of Drivers Avoid Shops

Of the 7,035 drivers who responded to the survey, an alarming 40% avoided driving to the shops due to being unable to find parking, which is a likely factor in the much-publicised decline of British high streets. Similarly, 25% of drivers avoided driving to the doctors or hospitals, 19% avoided driving to airports, 16% avoided driving to work and 13% avoided driving to leisure and sports activities due to parking issues. 61% of all those surveyed avoided driving to at least one of these over the past year.

Stressed Out Motorists Say Taking up Two Spaces is the Worst Parking Sin

Almost two thirds of British drivers (64%) said they felt stressed trying to find a parking spot, 16% got into an argument with another driver over parking, 38% missed an appointment and almost one in three (26%) abandoned a trip due to issues finding a space. 71% of motorists think there are not enough parking spaces available and 46% said taking up two spaces is the worst parking “sin.”

Dr Cookson concludes: “To lessen the significant burden parking pain has on our economy and lives, smart parking solutions are available for drivers, parking operators and cities to help reduce search times, congestion and pollution as well as negate overpaying and fines altogether. Still, more needs to be done to drive adoption. Parking pain will only get worse until technology is fully embraced.”

Research Methodology

INRIX combined rate card data from the INRIX Parking database of 100,000 locations across 8,700 cities in 100 countries with survey responses from nearly 18,000 drivers in 30 cities across the US, UK and Germany. Combining these datasets enabled INRIX Research to calculate the economic cost of three measures of parking pain: parking search, parking overpayment and parking tickets/fines.

Average 2-Hour Parking Cost refers to public, off-street parking within 1 mile of the city centre.

The weighted average of on-street and off-street search time was multiplied by the average number of times per week respondents parked. Value of time was based on UK Department for Transport values of time figures. Parking search costs also include the value of wasted fuel and carbon emissions.

Overpayment was calculated by using the average amount of time (in minutes) that respondents reported they overpaid for parking each time they park to avoid tickets, towing, or hourly rates set above the amount parked. The cost of overpayment was estimated using the weighted average of on-street and off-street parking rates. Parking fines were based on reported frequency and assumed all local tariffs and discounts were applied.

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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.


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