Country road scrapes are on the rise because modern cars are becoming too wide, according to insurers. The UK’s bestselling cars are getting broader and have increased in width by 17 per cent over the last 20 years, Direct Line Car research has found.
It means narrow country roads are becoming more difficult to navigate, as drivers are struggling to squeeze past each other without scraping or going off the side of the road.
The insurer compared the 20 top selling vehicles of 2018 and the top 20 most-sold vehicles from 1998 and found that car width is increasing substantially.
Among 2018’s top 20 most-popular vehicles were the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, with an average width totalling 1.94m, excluding wing mirrors.
When these cars were compared to the most popular vehicles in 1998 (including the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Cavalier, Rover 214 and the Nissan Micra) the average width came in at 1.66m, meaning they were 28cm (17 per cent) narrower.
Edmund King, president at the AA, said: "There’s no doubt that we have noticed that on narrower roads we are getting more cars that hit the curb, and this is adding to break down claims.
"In the 1970s two Minis would easily fit down a country lane but if you put two modern style Minis down there now, they won’t fit.
"Part of the reason why cars are now made larger is psychological, as people feel safer in a bigger car. As technology has advanced cars are safer, and it is these protective technologies which mean that cars are larger."
Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, added: “This research shows that car shapes have changed dramatically over the past 20 years, though roads remain the same width, so it is becoming harder to manoeuvre modern cars on Britain’s roads.
“With the size of cars increasing, manoeuvres and parking may become more of a challenge. Bumps and scratches happen to even the best drivers, so motorists need to make sure their insurer covers unforeseen accidents. Motorists who do accidentally hit another vehicle should always make sure to leave their contact details.”