Hidden Parking Costs Rob Drivers of Hundreds of Dollars Each Year

Ivanko80 / Shutterstock.com

What would you do with an extra $345 a year?

One smart move would be to invest it. If you managed 7 percent returns over 25 years, you’d have around $23,600 more to enjoy in retirement. But instead, the average American is blowing that money looking for parking.

On average, drivers in the U.S. spend 17 hours a year searching for parking, according to a recent Inrix study. This results in a cost of $345 per driver each year in wasted time, fuel and emissions. Collectively, the cost is $72.7 billion annually.

For the study, Inrix combined data from its parking database and a survey of about 6,000 U.S. drivers. The traffic data company’s chief economist, Graham Cookson, describes the study as “the first ever study to quantify the economic and non-economic costs of parking pain.”

Inrix contends that the economy bears the brunt of our parking problems. Inrix found that U.S. drivers cite lack of parking as a reason that:

  • 39 percent avoided shopping destinations.
  • 27 percent didn’t drive to airports.
  • 26 percent skipped leisure or sports activities.
  • 21 percent avoided commuting to work.
  • 20 percent did not drive to the doctor’s office or hospital.

Parking troubles also cost drivers in other ways:

  • 61 percent felt stressed.
  • 42 percent missed an appointment.
  • 34 percent abandoned a trip.
  • 23 percent experienced road rage.

In some cities, the toll of searching for parking is much higher than average. It is highest in:

  1. New York City: The average driver spends 107 hours per year searching for parking, costing them $2,243 per year.
  2. Los Angeles: 85 hours, $1,785
  3. San Francisco: 83 hours, $1,735
  4. Washington, D.C.: 65 hours, $1,367
  5. Seattle: 58 hours, $1,205
  6. Chicago: 56 hours, $1,174
  7. Boston: 53 hours, $1,111
  8. Atlanta: 50 hours, $1,043
  9. Dallas: 48 hours, $995
  10. Detroit: 35 hours, $731

So the next time you’re about to pass up a parking spot and circle the lot or block once more in hopes of finding a better spot, think about that extra $23,600 you could have in retirement. Settling for the first spot might not seem so bad.

Using a smartphone navigation app is another way to help reduce the amount of time and money you waste searching for parking. Cookson notes that Inrix provides data to Waze, a free traffic and navigation app available for Android and Apple devices.

Google also has a “popular times” graph feature that can show you when a business is most and least busy. For example, if I search for my local warehouse club, I can tell it is generally a zoo between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, so I avoid going during those times.

Do you have any parking search tips to add? Share them below or over on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.