Wider cars blamed on more accidents.
Experts say broader vehicles, designed to accommodate extra safety features and enhance comfort are a “major contributory factor” in crashes on minor rural roads where one in 40 accidents occur. They are also a hazard in urban streets where the conversion of houses into flats means roads are lined with parked vehicles.
Manufacturers have widened some models by inches.
The BMS 3 Series has expanded by 192mm since 1992 equivalent to seven-and-a-half inches more while a Volkswagen Golf is 110mm broader.
New Vauxhall Astras are 77mm wider than earlier models.
The problem has been managed on main roads by widening lanes Rules on lane sizes were changed in 2005 so that major A roads and motorways are now 3.65 meters wide. But smaller rural and urban are just 2.43 meters wide on average.
Accident management firm Accident Exchange says motorists are finding it increasingly difficult to judge the width of their car and advises drivers to exercise caution.
The company’s claims experts calculate accidents caused by ‘narrow road blindness’ on country lanes leave drivers with bills averaging £2,300 for repairs to bodywork panels.
“The ever increasing waistline of the modern car is a major contributory factor in crashes on Britain’s roads,” said claims settlement director Lee Woodley.
BMW spokesman Gavin Ward said legislation has forced car makers to fit larger wing mirrors and thicker windscreen and door pillars.
Most modern cars now have impact bars inside doors which also contain reams of wiring for electronic in-car gadgets.
“There is no denying that cars have got bigger. B-pillars are thicker than they used to be and floor structures are more robust. A car today has a lot more inside than it used to do,” he said.
“People aspire to a bigger car in their price bracket. The Austin 7 was once regarded as a family car but would be viewed as a micro car today.
“There are always going to be pinch points on country lanes – especially if they have overgrown hedges and no white lines down the middle.
“Drivers simply have to be more courteous.”