The What and Why of Parking Problems, By The Numbers

The What and Why of Parking Problems, By The Numbers

If you ask most people what defines a parking problem, they might stumble over their words or shrug their shoulders. They might even beckon a famous phrase from a Supreme Court decision: I know it when I see it.

That explanation works for the average person, whose biggest parking challenge is finding a spot. But it falls far short of the expertise and solution-based attitude required of municipalities and organizations whose garages, lots and streets provide a vital service to the public, their customers and employees. Indeed, in order to solve a parking problem, operators must be equipped to identify a parking problem.

While the conditions vary for each parking situation, there exists a body of research that has incisively broken down the troubling parking situation in much of the U.S. Here are the numbers:

  • 20 minutes: The amount of time, on average, drivers spend looking for a parking spot.
  • 55 yards: The distance from the parked car door to the destination’s front door—a distance that spans half a football field! Drivers find this distance to be problematic.
  • 50 percent: The number of people who have reported giving up on finding a space.
  • 95 percent: How much of a car’s life is spent parked, hogging valuable real estate for customers and visitors.
  • 20 percent: How many people actually know how much parking will cost when they use a public parking lot.

Recognizing the symptoms of an ailing parking system is but one duty of operators. What’s perhaps more critical is the toll that this sort of dysfunction takes on people, businesses and governments.

The mere convenience of a few drivers isn’t the only thing at stake. Once again, a contingent of experts, academic researchers and municipal innovators have examined the consequences of tough parking situations. Here’s what they found:

  • 74 percent: How much traffic can be caused by drivers searching for that elusive parking spot.
  • $160 billion: How much money Americans lost in 2015 while on the parking spot hunt.
  • 6.9 billion: The number of hours Americans spent that same year driving aimlessly, hoping to stumble on a garage or an open slice of curb.
  • 42: The number of hours the average person spends sitting in traffic each year, buildup that may be attributed to poor parking systems.
  • 25 percent: The portion of the population that has gotten into a verbal argument — or even a fist fight — with a fellow driver over a parking spot.
  • 0: The amount of precise data researchers have collected on pollution and carbon emissions stemming from parking-related gridlock.
  • 100 percent: How confident researchers are that there is a connection between parking-related gridlock and carbon emissions.

With concrete facts and figures, the research spells out the challenges and repercussions faced by municipal and corporate parking providers alike. The question now isn’t whether there is a problem, but how to solve it.

Can a parking management system combat these problems?

The figures here aren’t exactly encouraging, but answers exist for facility managers, business administrators, security officials and others who recognize that a parking problem exists. As bad as these problems may seem, they don’t warrant building an expensive, excessive garage or dedicating a swath of precious downtown land for a parking lot.

New parking technologies and parking management systems help savvy municipalities and companies make the most of the space already available to them.

A level guidance system, for instance, is a cost-effective solution to cramped quarters. Sensors at the entrance or exit of a garage monitor how many vacancies exist on each level. LED displays then alert drivers in real time so they know exactly where to go.

A space guidance system, meanwhile, uses new parking technologies to zero in on where, exactly, drivers can find open spaces. A series of sensors and lights work together to guide people to the perfect spot, whether it opened seconds or hours ago.

Then there’s the parking guidance video-based technology. This setup uses camera sensors to scan parked cars’ license plates, allowing returning drivers to digitally search for and quickly locate their vehicles.

With these cutting-edge solutions, it might be tempting to ask what defines a lack of a parking problem. That doesn’t require a technical response, even from a knowledgeable municipal or corporate operator: I know it when I see it.