'Cheap parking' helps make Sunderland ‘UK’s best for driving’, according to study

New research has found that Sunderland is the best place for drivers in the UK, offering an ‘enjoyable and stress-free experience on the road’.

The research analysed five “driver-focused categories”. Cities were ranked according to car park prices, congestion levels, fuel prices, first-time driving test pass rates and the cost of motor insurance.

These rankings then revealed the best and worst cities for motorists. Cardiff and Sunderland’s neighbour Newcastle also ranked highly, in second and third respectively.

Rankings were totalled up, with lower scores indicating a better driving experience. Sunderland scored 25 points, Cardiff 30 and Newcastle 38.

It's free to park at St Mary's from 3pm to midnight, Monday to Friday.

London was found to offer the worst driving experience, scoring a whopping 82. Then came Brighton, Glasgow and Liverpool, with 67, 65 and 64 respectively.

Bournemouth, Stoke, Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh completed the worst 10. Edinburgh scored particularly badly for congestion.

Sunderland was found to have the cheapest average car park costs at £1.14, compared to London’s average of £8.05 – a seven-fold difference.

For nine hours on Mondays to Fridays, 3pm to midnight, Sunderland city centre’s two main council-run multi-stories, the award-winning St Mary’s and Sunniside, offer free parking – as do a string of smaller car parks in the city. The Bridges multi-storey is free 5.30pm to 9pm for Thursday night shopping.

St Mary's Way dual carriageway.

With the huge leaps in fuel prices recently, this is useful for people in Sunderland who wish to use petrol carefully by staying in their own city to shop. The survey was carried out by major car dealership Vertu Motors.

A Vertu spokesperson said: “While you may associate city centre driving with endless traffic jams, extortionate parking prices, and even more expensive fuel, this is not universal across the UK.

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“There are cities in the UK, such as Sunderland and Cardiff, that offer a much more enjoyable and stress-free experience on the road, with lower costs and less busy roads.

The parking offer available to the city's drivers.

“Even in those more frustrating urban locales, there are myriad ways to make traversing a city centre a smoother experience. We recommend always checking routes before setting off and researching the best areas for parking and petrol prior to your journey.”

However, new car parking charges at the Stadium of Light are set to be introduced.