Brits waste over £2.4 billion on car park prangs

Article date: 19 September 2007

  • Study identifies supermarket car parks as scrape hot spots

A new parking study released today shows car park prangs are costing UK motorists £2.4 billion each year.*

The study, commissioned by RAC Direct Insurance, found that over half of all motorists have either damaged another car, or had their own car bumped in a car park, with supermarkets the most common places for dents to occur.

Almost three quarters of these hapless drivers have been the victim of a hit and run car park prang, in which they have returned to their car to discover it scraped but with no contact details left by the offending motorist.

And although car park prangs may not often cause serious injury, they're not cheap - on average, motorists pay £293.57 to fix their prang and over 800,000 drivers have had to fork out over £1,000 to repair the damage.

Yet a tenth of all UK motorists, and one in five drivers aged 25-34, still admit to driving off after causing a prang without leaving a note and the reasons given by men and women for doing a runner are very different:

  • Three quarters of men don't think a small prang is a big deal, compared to two thirds of women
  • Twice as many men than women drive off because they don't want their insurance premiums to rise
  • A quarter of male motorists, and one in ten female drivers, do a runner because their car has been a victim of a previous hit and run so they don't feel like they need to leave their own contact details
  • Women are twice as likely to leave because they say they "felt guilty" than men
  • Women are also more likely to be afraid of confrontation

Rob Wilson, from RAC Direct Insurance, comments: "Our study may shed amusing light on typical car park prang situations, and the people who suffer from and cause them, but it does have a more serious message. Often regarded as minor accidents, this study shows that the financial impact of car park bumps and scrapes is incredibly damaging."

The research also uncovered the typical profile of a hit and run car park pranger - motorists should be most wary of women aged 25-34, driving small blue hatchbacks. The least likely offenders are men aged 45-54, driving yellow trucks or vans.

And motorists who live in the North East, and do their weekly supermarket shopping on a Saturday, should also watch out as this is the most likely time and place for a car park run-in. The safest place and time to park in Britain is in a leisure centre car park in the South West of England on a Sunday.

The research also revealed other distinguishing features to watch out for:

  • Loud music - a quarter of those causing a prang had upgraded stereos
  • Magic Tree air fresheners - nearly a third of car park prangers use them in their cars
  • ‘Baby on Board' stickers - one in six of vehicles causing damage in car parks display these stickers
  • Furry dice - nearly one in five prangers had these on display

But there are obvious steps that motorists can take to avoid a prang in the first place.

Rob Wilson says: "Park in quiet spots away from other vehicles, steer clear of tight spaces and empty trolleys which can roll into your car. Also, take care when reversing in case any nearby cars are also moving backwards, and take note of the state of the car next to you - if it's in a bad condition, the owners may not be as concerned about their car as you so try parking elsewhere.

"Finally, if you have been the unfortunate victim of prang, ask passers-by in case anyone was a witness or make use of mobile phone cameras to use as evidence in a potential insurance claim. You should also check whether the accident was reported to the store manager."

Rob Wilson concludes: "Many minor car park prangs cause damage that falls below the excess on a driver's comprehensive policy, so RAC Direct Insurance recommends that motorists check whether their car insurance policy includes "Legal Expenses" cover, which can be used to help claim back the cost of minor repairs from the culprit's own insurers."


RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn 01603 684224/07800 692909, Sonia Clarke (020 7908 6570), Amy Funston (0207 908 6433) or Jennifer Hardisty (020 7908 6465)

Notes to editors

RAC commissioned Tickbox to carry out the research. Tickbox surveyed 1,033 UK motorists between 17/08 and 31/08

* The research revealed that the average cost per driver of their prang was £293.57. 25.5% of drivers were involved in a prang in the last year and there are 32,000,000 drivers in the UK, therefore 8,160,000 drivers had a prang in the last year at an average cost of £293.57, making a total cost of £2,395,499,947.

About RAC

  • With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.
  • Aviva bought RAC in May 2005.  The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15 per cent.
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