Recently the British Parking Association (BPA) carried out a survey of people’s parking experiences. The results were quite startling, so we thought we’d share them and offer some tips on how to make parking less stressful and less expensive.
The BPA asked 2,000 drivers about their parking, and it seems that the average person spends four days a year finding a parking space. Four. Whole. Days.
Imagine how you could spend that time instead: visiting a friend, binge-watching Game of Thrones, training your cat to fetch. (Actually, don’t bother with that last suggestion. Take it from me: you really would be wasting four days of your life.)
Here are some more not-so-fun facts from the survey:
44% of people say finding a parking space is a stressful experience.
Nearly 60% of people get angry at other drivers’ bad parking.
48% of people are annoyed by the lack of spaces.
People are also bothered about safety and lighting in car parks, and how difficult they are to navigate.
So, what can you do?
We’ve come up with six ideas on how you can avoid stress and wasted time (and wasted fuel) when trying to find a parking space.
1. Plan your journey
Choose a quieter day and time to make your trip.
You can avoid driving around for ages (only to find that some idiot has straddled two parking spaces) by choosing when and where to travel.
Think about the time of day you’ll be arriving, and where you need to park. For example, don’t expect to find parking near a football ground on match day. And you can be pretty sure that finding a space in the town centre on Saturday morning will be a nightmare.
2. Get some help with that planning
If you need to go somewhere regularly at busy times, it may be worth getting a parking app on your phone. It’ll give you updates on free spaces as they come up, and should save you having to drive around trying to find one by chance.
An app will tell you the opening times and prices for the car parks in the area. You may also be able to find out how they’re set out, and avoid anything that makes you uneasy or you find difficult to drive around. For example, you may not like multi-storey car parks.
News just in this week is that the government will be awarding £4m to tech developers who can come up with ways to help people park more easily and reduce urban congestion. So, the future’s looking bright for getting a really effective parking app.
I don’t need to tell you this, but I will anyway – don’t look at any websites or apps on your phone while you’re actually driving. Wait until you’ve stopped in a safe place.
You can also get help in finding a parking space from the Parkopedia website.
1. Look for national accreditation
Find parking that fits your needs by looking for national accreditations. These exist for both safer parking and accessible parking for disabled users. The accreditations are
the Park Mark (blue-and-white tick), from the Safer Parking Scheme
the Disabled Parking Accreditation (red-and-white tick).
Both of these schemes have car-park finders on their websites to help you plan your journey. They’re also signposted at the entrance of car parks that fit their criteria.
2. Practise your parking
Go somewhere quiet to practise your parking, so that you can get into a parking space easily when you need to.
Your car may have sensors to help you park, but don’t rely on them solely. Practise until you know exactly what size space your car will fit into, and how to get it there.
Some people find parallel parking especially tricky, and will avoid having to do this manoeuvre. If that’s you, then practise until you’re acing it every time.
Think about getting an instructor to help you refine your skills. They’re not just for learner drivers.
And did I mention … practise loads?
3. Stay cool
Research shows that anger and other strong emotions affect your driving ability. So, the more frustrated you get while looking for a space, the less accurate your parking is likely to be when you eventually find one. You don’t want to be scraping other people’s cars or having to abandon an ‘impossible’ space, so just keep your cool.
If someone nicks ‘your’ space before you can get there, take a deep breath and move somewhere else. Getting into an angry exchange with another driver will only hold you up more, and you’ll arrive at wherever you’re going in a bad mood.
4. Leave the car at home
If your destination is only a short distance away, it may be better to get there another way. A journey by public transport, walking or cycling may take you longer, but you’ll probably make up that time by not having to find a parking space when you get there.
Think about all this the next time you have to go somewhere. Ask yourself
Do I need to go now?
What’s the traffic like?
Do I need to take the car?
How can I keep my parking-space finding-time to a minimum?