It’s no surprise -congestion is one of drivers’ biggest pain points. The INRIX 2016 Global Traffic Scorecard showed that drivers in the U.S. spent 42 hours last year sitting in traffic jams, while in the UK it was 32 and Germany 30 hours per driver. Automakers and INRIX have teamed up to deliver state-of-the-art navigation and real-time traffic information to help alleviate the pains of traffic. Despite the gains made, our latest research reveals that parking problems are a growing source of frustration among drivers, second only to traffic congestion.

To undertake this study, INRIX Research leveraged the INRIX Parking database, the world’s largest – covering over 35 million parking spaces in 100,000 locations across 9,700 cities in more than 117 countries. These datasets, combined this with a large-scale analysis of almost 18,000 drivers’ parking behaviour, reveals the experiences drivers face across 30 cities in the US, UK and Germany.

On average, drivers spend 9.5 minutes searching for parking, adding up to more than 17 hours a year per American driver, or 44 and 40 hours each in the UK and Germany. Given average car occupancy rates of 1.5-2 people per car, solving this parking problem could release as much as 88 hours a year of free time – That’s more than two weeks of work. It’s  no wonder drivers rank this problem so highly.

To quantify the impacts on drivers, INRIX Research estimated the economic cost of the three main factors behind drivers’ parking pain – the sum of parking fines, overpaying for parking, and the cost of searching for parking, comprised of wasted time, fuel and carbon emitted. The results are stunning: parking pain is estimated to cost drivers $95.7 billion a year in the U.S., £31.2 billion in the U.K., and €45.2 billion in Germany.

With such a cost to drivers across the U.S. and Europe, it’s crucial to determine the root causes. While more than two thirds of drivers said there wasn’t enough parking available, analysis of INRIX Parking data shows that occupancy for spaces can be as low as 50%. Drivers are creatures of habit, and numerous studies have shown that drivers will circle the block over and over searching for an elusive parking space rather than search further down the road. We have an information problem more than a parking problem. A problem that technology can help fix.

Solutions for the “Last Mile” are key to saving driver’s time

Today most drivers rely on real-time traffic information integrated into vehicle navigation systems to provide realistic travel times and optimized routes to their destinations. Real-time information, like traffic, now plays a critical role in the driving experience. However, parking, an important part of the last-mile navigation puzzle, is largely being missed out today. When considering the total journey time, we’re not only talking about the drive, but also finding and paying for parking when we arrive at a destination.

The problem is that today, parking isn’t optimized for most drivers. The majority of drivers navigate to their destination without knowing where parking is available when they get there. When they arrive, they waste time hunting for a space to park while getting stuck in – and contributing to – congestion. If they’re lucky enough to find a space, they overpay for parking to avoid a ticket, and if they do overrun they receive a parking ticket.

Yet drivers know what they want. Of the 17,968 motorists who responded to the survey:
• 94% want real-time parking availability
• 93% want to search for the cheapest or closest parking spots
• 93% want to be able to navigate directly to the parking spot
• 88% want to be able to reserve a spot in advance
• 80% want to be able to pay in advance
• 76% want this technology integrated into their navigation system, two-thirds of which want this in the car’s head unit.

There is a clear demand for solutions and those solutions already exists. INRIX Parking is the industry-leading innovator in the smart parking space, launching the industry’s first real-time off-street availability parking service in 2013, followed by the first (in-car) integrated on-street parking solution in June 2015. INRIX showcased the industry’s first real-time on-street parking service available in a connected car, which uses historical and up-to-the-minute parking data to predict the availability of parking spaces, with the launch of the latest BMW 5 Series. And using the powerful INRIX Intelligent Routing drivers can be navigated to their parking spot most efficiently utilising the most accurate real-time traffic and incident information.

INRIX Research is delivering fresh analysis and insights to help automakers better serve their customers. In the next blog on November 21st, INRIX Research presents new findings on the real cost of parking and exactly how drivers want to pay for it from their cars.

A number of leading automakers are helping drivers ease their parking pain. In addition to BMW, INRIX also provides parking information and services to organizations such as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota. How will you rise to the challenge?

Read the full report and stay tuned for our next post that examines the costs of parking