By CRAIG McTEAR
THE next time you're cruising for a beaut parking spot in Coffs Harbour, just remember you are in a danger zone.
Coffs Harbour has been ranked the second-worst regional NSW centre for car park collisions, with Port Macquarie taking first prize.
According to NRMA Insurance, Coffs Harbour has 239 of these collisions annually, making it equal 15th with North Ryde on the list of worst suburbs or towns in the State.
Port Macquarie registered 312 smashes, the eighth-worst in NSW. The Sydney CBD takes top honours with 541 collisions.
Coffs Harbour smash repairer Peter Dubois said plenty of accidents happened in car parks in the city, and they appeared to be on the increase.
"We would probably get two a week, easy," Mr Dubois said.
It wasn't difficult for the cost of a car park bingle to reach about $1000, particularly in instances where there was a big scratch along a car with metallic paint.
One of the big concerns was when drivers reversed into a car and fled the scene without leaving their name and address behind.
"It's very hard for the police to do anything in these situations," he said.
"Poor customers are faced with paying their $500 excess and perhaps losing 20 per cent of their no claim bonus."
Coffs Harbour City Council's road safety officer, Anne Shearer, urged drivers to take care not only in car parks, but on busy streets as well.
"People just have to be really aware of the road rules and take their time," she said.
"They should make sure they have adjusted their seats and mirrors properly before reversing out, and also take into account there might be cyclists or pedestrians behind them."
NRMA Insurance spokesman Graeme Adams said dents, dings and bumps in car parks cost $1600 each on average, up $300 compared to the previous 12 months.
These collisions cost the community $110 million nationally, while nearly 700 car park collisions are reported weekly in NSW.
"About 20 per cent of all collisions
occur inside car parks," Mr Adams said.
"Almost half of all car park claims occur when drivers are reversing. Other causes for car park collisions include hitting other vehicles, trolleys, railings, walls, poles, posts or pylons.
"Although it is the driver's responsibility to ensure they navigate and park safely in car parks as well as following traffic signals, improvements in car park design can also assist in reducing collisions.
"Proper lighting, improved access as well as wider ramps and parking spaces can make a big difference."
n An AAMI survey has found that traffic congestion is fuelling aggression on our roads.
The results also indicate road rage is on the increase nationally and that many drivers believe their road rage is justified.
AAMI says 78 per cent of Mid North Coast drivers surveyed think that traffic congestion is a major cause of road aggression, while almost half admit they have gestured rudely or yelled at another driver when they have done something they felt was rude or dangerous.
Of those, 85 per cent believed their response was justified.
More than three-quarters of Mid North Coast respondents believed drivers were becoming more aggressive, yet only one in five would describe themselves as impatient drivers.
Two-thirds of Mid North Coast motorists admit they are more likely to lose their temper with other drivers if they are in a hurry and 48 per cent have witnessed a road rage incident between other drivers.