BRENTWOOD, England – Call it “parkophobia”, the nerve-jangling, sweat-inducing feeling that grips drivers as they try in vain to parallel park, often with impatient motorists behind and amused onlookers on the pavement.
A Ford Motor Company-commissioned poll across Europe confirmed that parallel parking ranks right up there with some of life’s most stressful moments to many motorists.
Headline findings of the survey by leading research company TNS include:
- Nearly one third of European drivers (32 per cent) said they needed more than one attempt at parallel parking, with the figure rising to 41 per cent for women
- Russian drivers rated themselves worst of all with 40 per cent saying they needed more than one try whereas 39 per cent of UK drivers admitted they needed another go – Germany rated themselves best with just 26 per cent admitting to multiple parking attempts
- When it comes to parking, some perceptions about the sexes persist – 56 per cent of European drivers think men are better at parallel parking than women, while just 12 per cent said women are better parkers; only 4 per cent of men thought women were better while 41 per cent of women thought men were superior
- New drivers across Europe rated parallel parking as stressful as Christmas shopping and twice as stressful as a visit from the in-laws and motorway driving
- In Italy new drivers find parallel parking as stressful as a visit to the dentist and more stressful than Christmas shopping and a visit from the in-laws
Ford commissioned the survey to determine how motorists truly feel about parallel parking.
But nervous parkers have no need to worry, thanks to Ford. Active Park Assist is available on new Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX models. The system takes the stress out of parallel parking by employing ten ultrasonic sensors mounted on the sides of the vehicle and on the front and rear bumpers. The front side sensors constantly scan for gaps between cars parked at the side of the road, alerting the driver to a suitable space with an audible chime and via a visual display in the centre console.
Retaining control of the accelerator and brake input and selecting first or reverse gears is all the driver needs to do. Steering input is provided by the electronic power steering system, which uses information from the sensors to help usher the vehicle perfectly into the parking space. Parking manoeuvres can be carried out at speeds of up to 10km/h and the system is designed to park 150mm from the kerb to avoid damage to wheels and tyres.
“Many drivers across Europe may be terrified by the idea of parallel parking but Ford’s Active Park Assist takes all the worry out of the manoeuvre,” says Ford engineer Kay Müller.
“At the touch of a button, it enables you to park in the smallest of spaces while at the same time reducing the risk of accidental damage to your vehicle and those surrounding it. With Active Park Assist, every motorist stays in control and can still park perfectly.”
Active Park Assist may not totally eliminate Europe’s fear of parallel parking but for those who experience the benefits of this advanced technology, perhaps Christmas shopping or a visit to the dentist can move back up the list of life’s more stressful moments.
Note to editors: survey carried out in six European markets – UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Russia – by TNS in May 2011. Sample size of 1,000 per country except Russia, with 1,500.