Parking Prowess: How is car technology affecting our parking stress levels?
Still remember the fear of being asked to parallel park in your driving test? If the answer is yes, then it’s likely you’re among the many people in the UK for whom parking is a bit of a daunting task. With the increase in parking technology, however, the ability to park hassle-free is becoming ever-easier. But does the UK public trust this technology enough to avoid their rear-view mirrors altogether?
Here at Peter Vardy, we carried out a survey to find out just how much drivers stress about parking their cars on a day-to-day basis. We also asked them for their thoughts on parking technology and how much they currently rely on their sensors and cameras to get by.
Location, location, location
When it comes to the most difficult places to park, busy city centres seem to be the most stress-inducing. 30% of drivers agreed that squeezing into tight spaces on busy city streets causes them the most issues. It was closely followed by supermarket parking, which 23% found to be the worst.
In fact, when we monitored parallel parking attempts in a city-centre location during a 30-minute time frame, we found that the average person takes 2.3 attempts to get into their desired space. Evidently, we don’t trust our first attempt to be accurate enough!
Surprising, only 8% of drivers found multi-storey car parking to be the most worrying. Apparently not many are phased by the tight corners and steep ramps that come with this kind of parking!
Always on your mind
Different parking spaces require different techniques. Therefore, we’re required to learn a variety of manoeuvring skills if we want to be seen as competent drivers. These techniques don’t come without their difficulties, however. When asked, we found that an overwhelming 43% of drivers would single out parallel parking to be the very worst!
Perpendicular reverse parking was the second-least favourite (21%), while angle parking was the third trickiest (17%). As for the least-dreaded, we found that only 9% of people fear perpendicular forward parking. It’s proof, perhaps, that we would rather go in a straight-forward line wherever possible!
Reliance on technology
It feels as if parking technology is a relatively new invention, but parking sensors have actually been around since the 1970s when they were used to help visually-impaired drivers. Since then, technology has come a significantly long way as car manufacturers race to come up with the next best thing.
Ultrasonic sensors, 360-degree cameras and fully autonomous self-parking are all options available. But, in practice, do people actually make use of what’s on offer to them?
The nation is pretty divided on this question. Just clipping the lead, however, are the 56% of drivers who told us that they do not rely on any technology when parking. It seems, therefore, most of us still prefer to use our natural parking abilities to get us safely in-between those thin white lines – despite the range of automation available.
Out of the 44% of drivers who do make use of in-car parking features, 39% rely on sensors, 14% rely on cameras and 8% rely on park assist.
The best cars to park
For those of us who do get in a hot sweat when trying to park on demand, it’s worth considering which cars might be best for reducing those future anxieties. If space is not an issue for your family, opting for a small car might be a good idea. At just 2.7 metres long, the Smart ForTwo is a nifty choice for wary parkers. It also features a near-vertical back, which means reversing is a lot easier to estimate.
With their petite sizes and funky features, Mini also offer a range of cars that are good for getting into tight spaces. The Mini One 3-Door Hatch is a popular car for city driving, and its compact size and low-centre-of-gravity handling make it ideal for nipping into tricky parallel parking bays.
For self-parking automation, Mercedes are top of the class. Their C-Class saloon automatically scans for suitable parking bays and takes complete control over the steering, acceleration, breaking and gear change functions. Surprisingly for some, Vauxhall also rank very highly in the self-parking stakes. The Astra hatchback has proved itself well-equipped to fit into the tightest of spaces thanks to the speed and accuracy of its Park Assist technology. Its folding mirrors and blind-spot monitoring are also popular features too.
So, help is available for all you nervous parkers out there. The question is: are you willing to accept it?