We've all heard of road rage and many of us have experienced it at one point or another. Now there's parking rage, a lesser known but equally alarming phenomenon fueled by the scarcity of parking in our streets. Parking rage has a number of different guises. The next time you see a motorist hurling abuse at a ticket warden, bumping into the parked car in front or behind just to squeeze into a spot or deliberately defying parking regulations and parking illegally, you'll know someone's seeing red over parking.Pay-and-display machines and parking meters are increasingly bearing the brunt of drivers' parking rage. It's hard to imagine that things have got this far but otherwise lawful residents throughout the country are venting their anger by blowing up parking ticket machines with industrial fireworks in the middle of the night and sabotaging parking meters by chopping off their heads. In some areas, beleaguered motorists have taken to jamming objects into the coin slots of meters and sticking in notes advising that the meters are now out of order. Elsewhere, commuters are blacking out meter windows with paint so that wardens can't see if the time has expired.
Another form of parking rage is that between drivers. Motorists are taking a no-holds-barred approach to each other when it comes to the pursuit of a spot. Courtesy and civilised behaviour go out the window as battles over parking lead to obscene verbal exchanges and vandalism. Such is the strength of feeling aroused by parking frustration that it's not unheard of for an enraged driver to slash a fellow road-user's tyres or even urinate on their vehicle.
When it comes to parking outside their own front door, drivers become very territorial, using traffic cones, rubbish bins and if necessary an assertive note plastered on the windscreen of other cars to reserve a space.
Worst of all, drivers are getting into punch-ups - sometimes fatal ones - and even pulling knives and guns on each other over parking. Hardly a week goes by when there isn't a report in the news about someone in the United States being killed following a parking feud, and similar stories are cropping up around Britain.
It's not difficult to understand why parking rage comes about or to imagine the heated circumstances which get tempers flaring.
At the end of a journey when you're running late and your patience is wearing thin because you've inched along at a snail's pace and stopped at every traffic light, parking is the last straw. Having circled round, eyes peeled, you find a spot - only to have it taken from under your nose by another driver who is that much closer to it. Grrr.
The solution to parking rage? One way round it is for drivers to plan ahead and leave plenty of time for finding a spot when they reach their destination. By factoring difficult parking into a journey length, drivers reduce their own stress levels and are less likely to get frustrated by fellow parkers.
A better solution still is for drivers to rent and reserve a parking space in someone else's driveway or garage. Having a pre-booked, penalty-free parking space close to your destination and waiting for you at the end of your journey brings peace of mind and saves all the stress that comes with looking for parking. No one can lay claim to or compete for a spot that has your name on it. And you aren't going to cause another driver's blood to boil by parking there.
By utilising existing space to provide additional parking for drivers, we can help solve the root cause of parking rage; a disparity between the number of drivers needing a space and the number of parking spaces actually available.
Without solutions like these, the parking problem will worsen and incidents of parking rage will increase. Whether we continue to drive traditional cars as we know them today or use some sort of solar-powered, pollution-free golf buggies, the unrivalled flexibility and safety of cars means that for the foreseeable future they are here to stay. And by extension, parking space will always be in high demand. As it is, the Department of Transport predicts that car ownership will soar by forty five per cent in the UK in the next twenty five years, squeezing pressure on finite and already limited space and fuelling disputes between drivers.
Katie Harvey is writing on behalf of ParkatmyHouse, a new and innovative way to rent parking in the UK (an example of spaces available for Twickenham Parking).