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Hunting for parking costs US $73B per year, study finds

Thankfully, suppliers and smart city aficionados are working on solutions.

Time is money, which means hunting for a parking space in an urban center is like watching dollars fly out the window. But did you realize that hunting for spaces is costing our country billions each year?

Searching for parking costs Americans $73 billion per year, according to a new study from Inrix Research, which combined data from a recent survey with its parking database that covers more than 100,000 locations across 8,700 cities. On average, a single US driver spends 17 hours searching for parking at a cost of $345 per driver.

There's nothing more fun than whipping out a set of opera glasses to read the tiny text on the four signs telling you what to do.

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That amounts to about $20.80 per hour spent. This figure accounts for a number of costs including wasted fuel, additional vehicle emissions as well as wasted time.

Inrix also took its data and broke it down by city. New Yorkers have it worse than anyone else, spending approximately 107 hours per driver per year hunting for spaces, at a per-driver cost of $2,243. Los Angeles isn't that far behind, with an average time spent of 85 hours at a cost of $1,785 per driver. All the way down in 10th place is Detroit, at 35 hours per driver per year and $731 wasted per driver.

The study also uncovered some other interesting tidbits. American drivers add an average of 13 extra hours to meters each year, in an attempt to avoid parking tickets. Across the top 10 urban centers in the US, that amounts to more than $20 billion spent to stay out of the meter maid's grasp. NYC and LA also have the highest number of parking tickets per driver per year, so clearly that strategy isn't working as well as one might hope.

Thankfully, there are solutions on the way. Bosch's community parking system relies on ultrasonic sensors detecting open spaces as cars drive by, feeding that info into a network that can then point drivers toward an open space. Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs built Flow, which is a smart-city data aggregation platform that could monitor traffic and parking situations in real time, which could relay parking info to a cloud similar to Bosch's.