Cars in the cold as garages used less 19 Dec 2011

Four out of five cars left out in the cold as more garages used to store junk

Only a fifth (19%) of Great Britain's 28 million cars are put away in a garage each night.

Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that half (53%) of all cars are left on the drive and a quarter (25%) are parked on the street. A minority (3%) are left elsewhere.

Yet ten million households (39% of the 26 million total) have access to a garage.

The proportion of cars being parked in a garage has fallen by about a third in a decade.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

"Given that those people with garages are most likely to be car owners, that means there are a lot of garages not being used for what they were intended."

The reasons for the fall in garage usage include:

•       Garages increasingly being used for the storage of other possessions

•       Modern cars are too long and wide to fit into older garages

•       Modern cars are more reliable, more resistant to rust and more secure, meaning people believe it is safe and practical to leave them outside

•       An increase in multi-car households which means there is not enough garage space for every vehicle

•       Garages being converted into extra accommodation

Professor Glaister continued:

"Many of us seem to be using our garages to store the things we do not want in our houses or simply do not have room for. After Christmas there will be a rush to put unwanted presents out of sight and out of mind. In the old days that might have meant heaving them into the loft or shoving them under the stairs. Today it is more likely to mean dragging them out to the garage.

"While modern cars are a lot more reliable, we should not take for granted the ability to come out of the house, turn the ignition key and drive off. The extremes of weather we have had over the past few years, and indeed the past couple of weeks, have resulted in big demands on the home-start services offered by the breakdown companies. Perhaps it is time to reconsider using the humble garage for what it was intended.

"Where people can keep their un-garaged cars on their own property there is not a problem for society, but when they are left on the roads this can cause safety and congestion issues. These concerns need to be addressed when planners make rulings on how much on- and off-street parking should be provided as part of housing developments."

ENDS

Contact:

Philip Gomm - Head of External Communications - RAC Foundation

020 7747 3486 / 07711 776 448 / 020 7389 0601 (ISDN) Philip.gomm@racfoundation.org

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a charity that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and responsible road users. Independent and authoritative research, carried out for the public benefit, is central to the Foundation's activities.

Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that the vast majority of Britain's ten million garages are for one vehicle only. Allowing for those which can accommodate more than one vehicle there are probably eleven million garage parking spaces in the country.

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