Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Car widths increasing?

My father is looking for a new car, but is having the same difficulty I did namely width. The newer model of his current car is about 5 inches wider and although it will fit (just) in the garage he wouldn't be able to exit. In fact I've been looking around as well for him and it seems every new model in the 'Supermini' bracket is anywhere between 2 to 6 inches wider than mine and mine's wider than his current car.

This got me thinking so I conducted a non-rigorous test with the Ford Fiesta which has been manufactured for some time now and is considered a 'compact' car. It seems that on average each new model gains an extra inch in width.

So anyone living in an older house most likely has a garage constructed with older models in mind and are getting squeezed out, which also might explain the number of cars parked on drives and roads.

However there's also another side to this with regard to the width of roads in this country. A quick search reveals that the 'standard road width' is around 7m that is 3.5m per lane; now the cars I've been seeing are around 1.9m and they're considered small.

So as you don't want to drive in the gutter over the drains you need to leave at least half-a-metre out. Add on the 1.9m and call it 2.5m, assume the other lane is the same and that leaves a clearance of 2m between lanes, which is fine. But again that's for the small cars.

A random selection of new 'family' cars and MPVs shows up that they tend to have a width of a little over 2m so makes little difference in terms of width on a standard road, but how many roads are deemed to be standard?

From the TIA conducted on behalf of Tesco the widths of most of the roads in Stourport can be found.

High Street - 5.6m, although they call it one-lane it is like York Street two so 2.8m per lane.
York Street - 6.5m, but does that take into consideration the parking bays? 3.25m per lane
Vale Road - 9m, but that's three lanes. 3m per lane.
Lion Hill - 5.8m, two lanes 2.8m per lane.
Mitton Street - 7.4 - 5.5m, two lanes so with the variable width that's 3.7m - 2.75m per lane
and finally good old Gilgal - 5.5 - 4.35m, again two lanes to 2.75m - 2.175m

So driving through Stourport in a normal 2m width car and allowing for drains the maximum space between two cars would be 1.5m in York Street dropping to a crash in Gilgal unless you drive in the gutter in which case you're looking at a maximum gap of 30cm.

Gosh I wonder why people slow down in Gilgal?

Now a Ford Transit is 2.374m in width, add on a drain distance and that's as wide as some of our lanes.

Although I'm using Stourport roads here this applies to a lot of older roads around the country - vehicles appear to be getting wider while out roads stay the same width. From the C&U regulations (helpfully not available on line) it appears that the maximum width of a vehicle is 2.55m which was set in 1986.

We seem to be getting rather close to it.


John Killip said...

I don't know if the car widths quoted include the wing mirrors but if not the situation is worse.
Country lanes are often only 6m wide so it is no wonder that wing mirrors keep getting hit.
There are some road signs still about which indicate maximum width 6ft 6in to try and restrict vehicles from using the roads they can often also be seen at motorway roadworks where there are narrow lanes. However all these signs must be non enforceable now because there are not that many cars where the width including wing mirrors is under 1.98m.
The 2.55m is construction and use regulations for vehicles and apples to all vehicles including Heavy Goods Vehicles
John Killip

FlipC said...

Hey I going back in time ooo 2009 what a strange place this is :-)

Wing mirrors? No idea. A lot of the sites seem to include them in their measurements page, some don't and neither generally tell you either way. But yes that does explain their loss.

I'm betting that the 6'6" is enforceable, but no-one even thinks about it any more. I can just imagine the police out with a measuring tape.

But yep I expect it to get worse, I mean hey these things are fine on the motorways, which would be great if you could get everywhere that way.