Travelling in reverse gear causes £409 million each year in vehicle damage, according to new research by Accident Exchange.

    Almost 200,000 reversing accidents occur annually, reported the accident management specialists, equivalent to more than 500 each day, with an average repair cost of £2,123. As the busiest shopping days of the year arrive, drivers are being advised to take care in congested car parks, the location of most reverse-related damage.

    In the majority of incidents, the ‘at fault’ driver collided with the innocent party’s stationary vehicle – usually in a car park – or was reversing from a driveway or narrow side road.

    The Accident Exchange study suggests that reversing cars cause almost 8% of total vehicle accidents in the UK, which results in nearly half a billion pounds of damage, excluding the wider costs associated with the involvement of emergency services or lost labour hours.

    There were an estimated 2.5 million accidents in 2010 on UK roads and Department for Transport figures show that failing to check for another vehicle is the most frequently reported contributory factor (38%) to accidents.

    Last year Visa Europe named the day before Christmas Eve (23 December) as the busiest shopping day in the year. Accident Exchange is concerned that increased congestion in car parks across the UK will result in even more vehicle damage as the festive shopping season reaches its climax.

    “Despite the proliferation of technology such as parking sensors and reverse cameras, drivers are not taking enough care to accurately check their surroundings whilst reversing.” said Lee Woodley of Accident Exchange.

    “Accidents can and always will happen, but perhaps drivers are mollycoddled by their vehicles too much these days – it is easy to become over reliant on technology, pampered by their vehicle’s cosy, quiet environment.”

    The Accident Exchange research was based on nearly 31,000 claims handled between 2010 and June 2011.