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Americans Are Losing Billions of Dollars Looking for a Place to Park

October 26, 2017
Cloud-Based Software, Location Or Spatial Technology
By: Ishveena Singh

A new study suggests that Americans are losing a staggering $95.7 billion due to parking pain in its largest cities. Is smart parking possible?

Ever noticed how you never seem to find a parking space, especially when you’re in a rush? Well, you’re not alone. A new study finds that on an average, motorists across the United States waste 17 hours every year due to parking pain (looking for parking spaces). And this hunt alone costs Americans an estimated $72.7 billion in time, fuel and carbon emissions.

smart parking, parking pain

If you factor in the fines ($2.6 billion) that come from incorrectly parked vehicles as well as the ‘overpayment’ amount ($20.4 billion) that drivers shell out to avoid meters getting expired, the cost of parking pain shoots up to a staggering $95.7 billion.

Transportation analytics company INRIX didn’t come to this conclusion easily. It took road and traffic data generated by more than 300 million sources and combined it with other parameters like origin and destination trip data, fuel, road weather information, etc. It was only after an extensive analysis that INRIX concluded: “Parking pain extends far beyond the driver’s seat.”

Enormous Economic Burden Related to Parking Pain

While the search for parking directly impacts the driver’s pocketbook and can increase stress levels, its wider implications are even more alarming. Consider this:

  • A driver searching for a parking space slows down traffic, leading to clogged streets and intersections. This traffic congestion alone cost each driver in the US $1,400 in 2016.
  • On average, drivers spend almost 9 minutes in search of a parking spot, emitting greenhouses gases and deteriorating the air quality of the city.
  • If a coveted parking spot is not available even after hunting for so long, nearly one in three drivers give up on their search altogether at least once a year – leading to more economic losses.

Interestingly, it is the largest cities and financial centers that suffer the pain of inadequate or unintelligent parking the most. Compared to the national average of $345, drivers in New York lose $2,243 per year in parking search cost. They also spend the maximum amount of time searching for parking every year: 107 hours. This is followed by Los Angeles (85 hours), San Francisco (83 hours), and Washington D.C. (65 hours).

Parking Pain: Is There a Way Out?

The answer would vary depending on who’s providing the parking options. While cities could consider building new parking spaces or offering park-and-ride facilities for their residents, demand-side strategies could include encouraging the use of public transportation and levying parking taxes (although this may only increase the burden). But if the implementation of these solutions is too expensive or challenging, a city can always turn to technology.

For example, business districts, malls, and airports in the United Kingdom are using real-time parking applications and sensor-driven availability signs to let drivers see the price they would be paying for convenience more clearly. Several cities in the United States have also turned to real-time parking intelligence to empower transport authorities with tools that would allow them to make data-driven decisions and avoid congestion. These include Austin, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, Orlando, Dallas, Santa Monica and Walnut Creek. You can learn more about smart cities.

Moreover, many automakers – BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Lexus – are offering smart parking solutions to drivers based on their location, availability, and cost. Drivers can, in fact, reserve a parking spot and pay for it directly from their car’s dashboard or mobile device. This has been made possible by carmakers’ packaging smart parking solutions with connected car services like real-time traffic information and satellite radio. Smart cities and smart solutions from key influencers are the keys to our way out.

Smart Parking: So, We’re Saying There’s a Chance?

An effective transportation network is the life force of urban living. A city fails to meet this fundamental requirement often because it doesn’t have intelligent parking solutions. These solutions would allow its people to get across town whenever they want without unnecessary costs. And it avoids having an entire framework come crumbling down like a house of cards. It’s time to embrace new technologies and smart parking solutions to get out of this tight spot. It’s time for city governments to consider smart parking options.

About the Author


As a media professional with over a decade of experience, Ishveena Singh has been associated with several print and digital news platforms, including the Miami Herald International, Microsoft MSN, Times of India, Daily Post and Geoawesomeness. When she’s not happily typing away at her keyboard, you will find her packing for impromptu road trips or chilling at a karaoke bar. Follow her on Twitter at @IshveenaSingh or connect with her on LinkedIn here.


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