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Are UK Car Parks Still Safe?

Some members of the motor trade industry may be interested in new guidelines recently released by the Institution of Structural Engineers, they are emphasizing the need for car parks in the UK to adapt to accommodate larger and heavier vehicles, like Electric vehicles (EVs) for example.

Car park

Many existing car parks were constructed at a time when cars were smaller and less technologically advanced, leading to concerns that multi-storey car parks built between the 1960s and 1980s may pose safety risks for private and motor trade drivers.

The Institute has urged careful consideration in the design of multi-storey car parks due to the increasing popularity of larger SUVs, EVs, and cars equipped with advanced technology and safety features.

Experts from the Institute contributed to the guidance, which highlights the significantly greater weight of modern vehicles and the potential hazards posed by numerous car parks.

Research conducted by The Institution of Structural Engineers underscores the necessity of reviewing the safety of multi-storey car parks.

Furthermore, the study highlights the ongoing trend of vehicle size expansion, a problem that has been observed and reported on since the early 2000s.

The rise in weight can be attributed, in part, to the increasing prevalence of EVs and the growing popularity of SUVs.

This research also reveals that vehicles from major motor trade manufacturers have not only become heavier but also larger over time, while car park infrastructure across the UK has remained relatively unchanged.

The strain posed by modern vehicles extends beyond car parks. Other research released indicates that the most popular cars in Britain have grown by almost a third in size over the past 50 years, making them unsuitable for standard domestic garages.

In 1965, the top five best-selling models had an average width of 1.5 meters and a length of 3.9 meters. However, the most-purchased models in 2020 had an average width of 1.8 meters and a length of 4.3 meters.

Consequently, the space occupied by the country’s most popular cars on the road has increased by 32%. Unfortunately, garages have not adapted adequately to accommodate these larger vehicles.

The average garage door width is only 2.1 meters, leaving a mere 15 centimetres of clearance on each side of some popular vehicles.

There has been a significant increase in the number of cars on British roads. In 1965, there were only 7.7 million cars, but by 1995, the number had risen to 21.4 million. Presently, there are 31.7 million cars in the country.

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This report, which can be found in its entirety in Standing Still, examines data provided by Field Dynamics, a leading net-zero data analytics consultancy, Ordnance Survey, and government statistics.

The latest data collected by JATO shows an increase of 21% on the average curb weight of cars sold in Europe between 2001 and 2022.

According to the data, the average weight of a car sold in 2001 was 1,328 kg. This total has increased almost every year up to 1,600 kg today.

These findings come in the wake of a study conducted by a popular private and motor trade Insurance company, which revealed that nearly six million garages in the UK are not utilized for parking cars as they are filled with clutter.

The survey of 2,138 drivers found that 53% of individuals with garages do not park their cars inside them. Of those who do not utilize their garages for parking, almost a third (30%) cited the reason as their vehicles being too large to fit through the garage door.

Instead of cars, the most common items stored in garages include DIY materials, gardening tools and furniture, bicycles and scooters.