Car park crashes: prepare for chaos on 23 December

Stressed-out shoppers using crowded car parks means the number of costly collisions could soar

Car park

10 years worth of data from leading insurer Admiral points a grim picture of the car park carnage we can expect on the day before Christmas Eve. It reveals that 23 Dec is the worst day in the annual calendar for car park collisions, with a staggering 46 percent more prangs expected than on a typical shopping day.

In fact, the pressures of the pre-Christmas shopping rush mean the 20, 21 and 22 Dec dates all figure in Admiral’s top 10 most ‘unlucky’ days of the year to use a public car park, so if you value your bumpers and paintwork, maybe it’s worth thinking about taking the bus or a taxi when you’re chasing those last minute bargains - or shopping safely online!

In case the threat of car park carnage isn’t enough to convince you of the merits of online shopping, Admiral has also been looking into the cost of car parking tickets, and it claims that local councils issued 17 per cent more fines in December 2022 than in December 2021.

Last year, 7,296 fines were issued by those councils that responded to a Freedom of Information request, and Admiral says the new data reveals a 27 percent increase in fines in 2022 compared to 2021. That means drivers paid out £7.75 million for parking infractions last year, up from £5.99 million the year before - and with fines ranging from £80 to £130 a time, that could significantly affect both your seasonal good cheer and your budget.

According to Admiral’s own research, the main reason drivers give for receiving a parking fine is overstaying the time stated on their ticket, although unclear signage is blamed by many, too.

“Christmas shopping can be stressful, and our research suggests that car parks in particular present their own problems. Four of the ten days of the year we see the most car park collisions are in the week before Christmas, so it’s important to try and remain calm if you’re using car parks in the run up to Christmas,” says Clare Egan, head of motor product at Admiral Insurance. 

”More drivers trying to find a space, and the pressure to finish your Christmas shopping, can lead to tension and panic. Not only can that result in an unwanted car park bump, it can also lead motorists to potentially park illegally or inconsiderately when looking for a spot.”

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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