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Parked drivers struggling to get out of their vehicle as cars get wider, says survey | UK News

Drivers are having trouble getting in and out of their cars because vehicles have become wider but parking spaces haven’t grown, according to research.

Most spaces in car parks are still based on guidelines from the 1970s, but analysis of 10 popular family motors shows they’ve crept up in size.

Churchill Motor Insurance said their average width had increased from 168cm to 180cm.

The British Parking Association recommends a 240cm-wide space – in theory leaving just 30cm (1ft) on each side.

That could be especially tricky if the car next door isn’t in the centre of their own space.

A Ford Fiesta, for example, was 155cm when first launched in 1976 but has grown to 174cm wide.

Another UK favourite, the Vauxhall Corsa, has grown 24cm to 177cm.

Even more modern vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai, released in 2007, have grown – from 178cm to 184cm.

Churchill estimates damage caused by struggling with parking bays and hitting a wall, another vehicle or a bollard costs UK drivers £424m every year.

The Corsa is one of the cars that's grown wider over the years. Pic: iStock
The Corsa is one of the cars that’s grown wider over the years. Pic: iStock

Two in five of the 2,000 people surveyed said they had struggled getting in or out their car when parked up at least once a month.

Some 22% had even been forced to clamber through the boot at least once, according to the survey.

A third (32%) said they owned a bigger car than five years ago.

Common reasons were wanting more comfort, needing space for work or leisure gear, or just because they liked the design of a larger vehicle.

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“Widening cars combined with parking bays that haven’t been redesigned to accommodate today’s models means motorists all over the country are at risk of damaging their cars, through no fault of their own,” said Churchill boss Nicholas Mantel.

The RAC said a common reason for cars becoming wider was the introduction of side impact protection technology.

“Operators are faced with the dilemma of having to repaint spaces to accommodate these larger vehicles, which is especially difficult at some older multi-storey car parks where space is already restricted,” said RAC head of policy Simon Williams.

“Unfortunately, this would lead to an overall reduction in the total number of spaces available and an inevitable increase in charges to compensate for the loss of revenue.”

Mr Williams said the problem of tighter spaces was especially frustrating for wheelchair users or people with mobility issues.

Officers searching for man trapped in vehicle in floodwater recover body, Police Scotland say | UK News

The body of a man has been recovered by officers after reports a vehicle was seen getting into difficulty in floodwater on Friday.

Searches were carried out by police after the incident near Marykirk, Aberdeenshire, following disruption caused by Storm Babet.

“Formal identification is still to take place, however next of kin have been informed,” officers said.

The discovery takes the number of lives claimed by the storm across the UK to seven.

Earlier a man who died after a tree struck his van during the storm was named as John Gillan.

John Gillan from Arbroath
Pic:Police Scotland
John Gillan from Arbroath. Pic:Police Scotland

The 56-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene following the one-vehicle collision on the B9127 at Whigstreet, south of Forfar in Angus, at around 5.05pm on Thursday.

Police Scotland said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

In a statement, his family said: “We are devastated by the loss of John and the circumstances in which he died.

“John was a loving husband to Gaynor, dad to Marc, father-in-law to Natasha, and grandad to Reygan and Finley.

“He was also a loving son to John and Moira, brother to Wendy and a loving uncle, son-in-law and brother-in-law. John will be deeply missed by us all.”

Mr Gillan was from Arbroath.

Another victim, Wendy Taylor, 57, was swept away in the Water of Lee, Glen Esk, on Thursday.

Wendy Taylor. Pic: Police Scotland
Wendy Taylor. Pic: Police Scotland

Ms Taylor, a director at Errol-based Taylors Snacks, previously known as Mackie’s, was described by her family as a “ray of sunshine” and a “beautiful, kind, funny and caring person”.

Two women also died after a five-vehicle crash on the M4 on Friday morning, which is believed to have been weather-related.

Four cars and an HGV were involved in the collision on the eastbound carriageway between J17 for Chippenham and J18 for Bath.

Read more:
Why Storm Babet brought so much rain

A man in his 60s also died after getting caught in fast-flowing floodwater in the town of Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire, on Friday.

Maureen Gilbert, 83, also died after her home in Chesterfield, Derbyshire flooded.

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‘You deal with it,’ resident tells Coffey

Her son told Sky News how he found her body floating in the water at the property on Saturday.

Paul Gilbert said people on his mother’s street “did as much as they could” to prepare for the storm, which is estimated to have flooded more than 1,250 homes across England.

“I thought if the flood defence worked, she was safe,” he added.

“For me to have to come and find her myself was upsetting.

“I can’t put it into words what it means at the moment.”

Meanwhile, a fresh weather warning for rain has been issued covering a vast swathe of England already hit by flooding as a result of Storm Babet.

The Met Office issued the yellow warning for “heavy rain” which could lead to further flooding in the East Midlands, including Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, as well as much of Yorkshire, including Sheffield, Leeds and York, and Humberside.

Self-driving buses: Passengers travel on full-size vehicle for the first time in the UK | Science & Tech News

Passengers have travelled on a full-size self-driving bus for the first time in the UK, with one of them describing the experience as “brilliant”.

A group of 22 volunteers, part of a co-design panel, took a test journey on the autonomous single-decker over the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh on Thursday, operator Stagecoach said.

Fleur Dijkman was one of the local bus users recruited to provide ideas on how an autonomous service should work.

She said: “I wasn’t worried at all about it. You wouldn’t know the difference between this and a normal bus from the driving.”

Ms Dijkman, who joined the panel through a forum for young people, said: “It’s brilliant to see it come through and become this actual thing from a few drawings. It was quite exciting, the thought of getting on for the first time.”

The vehicle has sensors enabling it to run on pre-selected roads without a driver having to take control.

An experienced driver will be on board when the buses are fully operational, but to monitor the system, rather than to drive it.

Handout photo dated 19/01/23 issued by Stagecoach of a passenger who travelled on the operator's autonomous single-decker over the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh. The bus has sensors enabling it to run on pre-selected roads without a driver having to take control. Issue date: Friday January 20, 2023.
Twenty-two volunteers from a co-design panel made the trip

A bus captain will help passengers with boarding, buying tickets and any queries.

The plan is to have five self-driving buses operating on the 14-mile journey between Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange via the bridge from the spring.

It is part of the CAVForth project which is expected to have five self-driving buses run timetabled services between Ferrytoll park-and-ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange via the bridge from the spring.

Pic: Stagecoach
The vehicles run on sensors on pre-selected routes with an experienced driver on board

The buses will travel in mixed traffic at speeds of up to 50mph, with capacity for around 10,000 journeys per week, as part of the CAVForth project.

The on-road testing follows successful depot-based trials, track testing and virtual simulation which Stagecoach said put the autonomous buses through their paces to fine-tune the drive systems.

Ivan McKee, the Scottish government’s business minister, called it a “hugely significant step”.

“It has been really encouraging to watch the project develop through the various steps, from early testing and demonstrations through to carrying of passengers along the route for the first time,” he said.

Louise Simpson, operations director and CAVForth lead project manager for Stagecoach, said: “Until today, only project team members had been able to trial the autonomous service so it’s great that our co-design panel have had this opportunity, and we welcome any views they have.”

Police ‘increasingly concerned’ for baby missing with parents after vehicle broke down three days ago | UK News

Police are “increasingly concerned” for the welfare of a newborn baby who went missing with their mother and father three days ago.

Officers are searching for Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, along with their recently born child, after their vehicle broke down on the M61 near Bolton on Thursday night.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said evidence suggested that Ms Marten had “very recently given birth and neither her or the baby have been assessed by medical professionals”.

The force released a CCTV image thought to show Ms Marten in a red shawl near Harwich Port in Essex at 9am on Saturday.

GMP said Ms Marten was later seen in Colchester, Essex, at about 10am on Saturday – the last sighting of her.

Constance Marten has been missing the vehicle she was travelling in broke down near a motorway
Constance Marten has been missing since Thursday

A police spokesperson said on Sunday: “With it being three days now, officers are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of the newborn baby, which is everyone’s priority, and are asking for Constance and any members of the public who have any information to reach out to ensure they are safe and well.”

After their vehicle broke down, the family left the motorway and walked towards Anchor Lane bridge, which links the Highfield and Little Hulton areas.

Mr Gordon is described as wearing dark clothing while Ms Marten, who has a southern accent, was wearing a burgundy coat. The baby was swaddled.

Mark Gordon is missing along with his newborn baby
Mark Gordon is also missing along with his newborn baby

Essex Police said they were liaising with GMP to help locate the three people “who they urgently want to find” and officers were carrying out “extensive enquiries” in the area.

GMP’s head of public protection, Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, said: “As a mum, I would like to make a direct appeal to Constance.

“Constance, I know this is an exceptionally hard time for you and you are likely feeling scared, but I promise that our number one priority is the same as yours – to keep your beautiful newborn safe.

“As you know, it’s really important that both you and your baby are assessed by medical professionals as soon as possible, so please make contact with emergency services or make your way to your nearest hospital, wherever that may be.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.