BMW Drivers Are Owed An Apology - Data Reveals Saab Drivers Are The Absolute Worst for Clampings

By James O Malley on at

BMW drivers are the absolute worst, right? Well, maybe not – if you accept the findings of Gizmodo UK’s important data-driven study.

Today, we can reveal that it is actually Saab owners who are the worst motorists – at least, if the ability to park a car is anything to go by.

Last week, the DVLA released new data on the car brands that have been clamped or impounded the most. The press release made a big show of dunking on Porsche, the most clamped luxury brand, which saw 199 cars punished in the year 2017-2018.

But that isn’t quite the full story.

Here’s a chart we’ve put together showing the car makes with the most clampings:

As you can see, among all types of car, it actually looks pretty bad for Ford – whose cars were clamped 21,621 times in the same year - closely followed by Vauxhall, with other brands some distance behind. Here’s the full top 20 brands by the number clamped:

However, on its own, this data isn’t very meaningful. It isn’t very surprising that Ford is the most clamped car make, as Ford also have the most cars on the road. Here’s a chart showing the top 20 car brands on British roads in 2018:

In 2018, there were 4.3m Fords licensed to drive on British roads, compared to 3.4m Vauxhalls. And this raises an obvious question: what make of a car is proportionally the most clamped?

To find out, we mashed together these two datasets, and the results are quite striking.

Before we begin, some caveats: though both datasets are published by the British government, they’re not going to be directly comparable – they may cover slightly different periods of time. In our data-mashing, we had to fuzzy-match the different car brands together to match up the two datasets, so there may be a few cars or clampings missing, but we’re fairly confident we matched up most. Basically, treat this as a back-of-the-envelope thing – and know that your mileage may vary.

According to our calculations, Saab drivers are the worst offenders among brands with 100,000 or more cars on the road. The clampings to cars ratio for Saab is 0.83 per cent. That either means that almost one per cent of Saabs on the road were clamped last year – or that there is a super hardcore of Saab drivers who presumably love parking in disabled parking bays.

BMW drivers, on the other hand, come out of this quite well. You might expect them to score badly given their reputation, but they have a clamp rate of just 0.38 per cent – slightly below upmarket competitor Mercedes, and on par with Lexus.

And the best behaved brand? Surprisingly among the 100,000+ group the winner is Dacia, which is especially strange given that its parent company Renault’s own-branded cars are the second worst offenders.

And finally, what of Porsche, which the Department for Transport highlighted as a particularly egregious marque? When compared to the more popular brands, Porsche owners are actually some of the best behaved - with a clamp rate of just 0.13 per cent. It turns out that you can prove anything with statistics.

James O’Malley is a freelance data journalist and tweets as @Psythor .

Featured image credit: Eric C Castro/Flickr (CC)