MOTORISTS in the West Midlands spend an average of 46 hours a year searching for a parking space, according to new research.

This costs the typical motorist £733 in wasted time, fuel and emissions, the study by traffic information supplier Inrix found.

Businesses and high streets bear the brunt of parking pain as 40 per cent of drivers say they avoid driving to shops due to problems finding a space.

London was ranked as the worst UK city for parking, with motorists spending an average of 67 hours a year searching for a spot, costing them £1,104.

This was followed by Belfast (56 hours), Leeds (47 hours), Bristol and Birmingham (both 46 hours).

Inrix calculated that the annual cost of the time spend searching for a space, overpaying for parking time and parking tickets is more than £30 billion in the UK.

The study found that while 71 per cent of drivers say there is not enough parking available, occupancy of spaces can be as low as 50 per cent.

Dr Graham Cookson, Inrix chief economist, said: “We have an information problem more than a parking problem.

“To lessen the significant burden parking pain has on our economy and lives, smart parking solutions are available for drivers, parking operators and cities to help reduce search times, congestion and pollution as well as negate overpaying and fines altogether.”

The study was based on analysis of data from parking locations as well as survey responses from nearly 18,000 drivers across the UK, the US and Germany.

AA president Edmund King said: “With parking at a premium and spaces often hard to find, lack of provision will further kill off the high street as shoppers vote with their wheels and go to out of town retail outlets where parking tends to be easier and free – or avoid town centres altogether by shopping online.”