Blog: Paying price of selfish cut-and-run crash drivers

No conscience - the motorist who hit this car, causing £2,900 of damage, left no details and drove o

No conscience - the motorist who hit this car, causing £2,900 of damage, left no details and drove off. - Credit: supplied

How would you feel if someone caused thousands of pounds of damage to your car and driven off, asks motoring editor Andy Russell.

It's bad enough find your car has been damaged but it's even worse when the other driver, fully aware of what they have just done, makes off.

There are more than 500,000 car parking collisions each year – that's nearly 1,400 every day – and it's costing UK drivers nearly £750m a year in repair bills.

Part of the cause is being put down to motorists feeling the squeeze as cars get bigger, effectively making the parking space tighter. The other reason is carelessness and human error.

And car park prangs, bumps and scrape now account for nearly a quarter of all accidents in the UK.

But even if you misjudge the space and clip a car or reverse into one parked behind, there is no excuse for not leaving your details and contact number on a piece of paper under the wiper of the damaged car.

A couple of weeks ago a friend visited the gym at the UEA Sportpark car park at Norwich and left their BMW in the car park where another vehicle reversed right across the front of it.

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The bumper was scraped and slightly cracked, the edge of the bonnet creased and dented, the headlamp damaged and one of the headlamp washers had been forced out of the bumper. It's doesn't look a lot but the estimate to repair it properly is £2,900.

There is no way the driver of the other car, believed to be a 4x4 by the bodyshop which is repairing the damage, could not have known they had hit something... and fairly hard. They must have heard it and felt it. I wonder if they would have driven off if it has been a person they had hit.

The BMW owner was rightfully angry but even more frustrated because they had just reached maximum no-claims discount and now, through no fault of their own, they are having to make an insurance claim for damage and will also be £560 out of pocket to cover their personal excess. And next year I suspect their insurance premium will go up.

Unfortunately they were told there is no CCTV covering the car park, so no way of seeing what caused the damage, and little hope of anyone owning up to it or a witness coming forward.

I know there are signs dotted around car parks to tell drivers they park at their own risk but it would be reassuring if more car parks had CCTV coverage to help detect crime or crash culprits. After all, drivers using private car parks are effectively the owners' customers but might decide not to be any longer.

Accidents happen – that's why we legally have to have insurance. But if you are selfish enough not to have insurance, and leave other drivers footing the bill with your disregard of the law, you're not going to lose sleep over bumping into someone else's car and taking the coward's way out by clearing off.

If I saw someone drive off after damaging a car, I would have no hesitation writing their registration number, model and time of the incident on a piece of paper and putting it under the damaged vehicle's wipers so the owner can at least pass it on to their insurance company or even the police.

I would hope most people would do the same – after all, it might be your car they hit next time.

Have you come back to your car to find it damaged? Or did you manage to track the culprit down? Email motoring@archant.co.uk