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Parking is the Largest Single Expense for Vehicle Owners

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Driving is expensive, but unfortunately it’s a sad fact of life in many places that driving is unavoidable. Public transportation isn’t exactly ubiquitous in the U.S., so owning an automobile is often the only way many families can get around, creating a so-called “transportation barrier” for low-income individuals and families who can’t afford their own car. To help reveal just how expensive owning a vehicle can be and to analyze where the average vehicle owner’s money goes, a transportation analytics company has published the results of a study breaking down the largest costs U.S. drivers face. While you might think fuel costs or insurance premiums would be the most expensive, it turns out that it’s parking costs. Do Americans really spend that much just to park their cars?

It turns out that we do, according to new data. Seattle-based transportation analytics firm INRIX released a study which found that parking fees and fines make up around one-third of the total driving costs the average U.S. driver faced in 2017. The average American driver paid $10,288 in driving costs last year, of which more than $3,000 went to parking fees fines, fuel lost to driving around searching for a place to park, or for overpaying for parking.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, parking costs were highest in New York City, where drivers on average paid around $8,700 to park their cars last year. Parking costs in the Big Apple represented 46% of total driving costs for New York drivers, who often pay to park at least ten times a week for an average of $14 an hour. One of the cheapest cities was Detroit in which drivers only paid around $1,715 to park their car in 2017.

Statistics like these really make me excited about autonomous vehicles and the changes soon to be brought about by fleets of hailable self-driving cars which will render parking costs obsolete. What will you spend all that extra money on?

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