Campaigners Sound Alarm on SUVs Dominating UK Roads and Impacting Safety

Campaigners Sound Alarm on SUVs Dominating UK Roads and Impacting Safety

Analysis Reveals New Cars Exceeding Road Standards

Recent analysis conducted by green campaigners has unveiled a concerning trend in the width of new cars sold in Britain.

On average, cars have increased in width by 1cm every two years, with the surge primarily attributed to the rising popularity of large Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs).

The Transport & Environment (T&E) think tank pointed out that this surge in car widths is causing challenges on city streets, particularly in on-street parking spaces.

SUVs Blamed for Increase in Car Widths

The study highlighted that SUVs, often referred to as ‘mega SUVs,’ are a major contributor to the widening of new cars.

These vehicles, averaging 200cm in width and 220cm with wing mirrors, are surpassing the dimensions of standard on-street parking bays, which are typically 180cm wide.

The rise in the popularity of SUVs, now the second most preferred vehicle type in the UK, has been a notable shift in the automotive market over the past decade.

Historical Data and Specific Car Models Implicated

Examining historical data from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the report indicated a consistent increase in car width over the past two decades, with an acceleration in recent years.

Specific car models, such as the new generation Land Rover Defender and BMW’s X5, were identified as having undergone substantial growth in width.

Volvo, as a brand, widened by 4.1cm in just one year in 2023.

Impact on Road Space and Safety Concerns

T&E expressed concerns over the impact of wider cars on road space and safety.

The report stated that the trend towards broader vehicles is reducing road space for other vehicles and cyclists.

Moreover, parked cars are encroaching on footpaths, affecting pedestrian safety.

The widening of vehicles has also allowed for an increase in height, posing higher risks in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.

Call for Legislative Review and Maximum Width Mandate

T&E called for a review of existing legislation around vehicle width, emphasizing that rules inherited from the EU should be revisited independently following Brexit.

The think tank proposed the introduction of a mandated width limit for passenger cars, applicable to both the UK and EU markets, by 2030.

It suggested that a new maximum width of 192.1cm should be set to prevent further encroachment into street spaces.

Industry Response and Future Considerations

In response to the report, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in the UK noted that cars are growing in size to enhance safety and environmental features.

The industry highlighted the incorporation of advanced safety technology and electric components, influencing the dimensions of modern vehicles.

Cycling UK echoed concerns about wider vehicles, emphasizing the need for government action to curb the trend and promote road safety and sustainability.

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