With travel restrictions within the UK now lifted, many road users are finding themselves spending more time back behind the wheel – but perhaps not as often as before. A Lincoln car retailer offers their insights into how the pandemic has affected our driving habits for good. Andy McInnes, from Stoneacre Lincoln on Lincoln Fields, said: “If there’s one element of the COVID-19 pandemic that many drivers have enjoyed, it’s been avoiding that morning rush hour and facing the traffic on the journey back home.
“We’ve all spent less time in our cars since the pandemic began, and while this has had many positive impacts on the environment, our time spent away from the driver’s seat has changed the way we drive, what we see on the roads and how we behave.
“Below are six ways your driving habits may have changed during the pandemic.
- You’re driving faster
“Unsurprisingly, less time spent in our cars over the past 18 months has led to many drivers feeling that their driving ability is a little rusty. Emptier roads and motorways have led to many drivers increasing their speed and being less aware of the speed limit, with 63 per cent of drivers exceeding the 30mph speed limit since the pandemic, compared with 56 per cent the year previously[i]. If you’re concerned that your driving has deteriorated since before the pandemic, it may be a good idea to get refresher lessons from a driving instructor and reread the Highway Code to brush up on your understanding of the rules of the road.
2. You’re at lower risk of an accident… but it’s more likely to be fatal
“With fewer people driving on the roads, car crashes have decreased – which is definitely one positive to take from the past 18 months! However, emerging evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the accidents that are happening are more fatal due to drivers travelling at increased speeds, making it all the more important to take extra care when getting back on the road[ii].
3. You can’t remember whose right of way it is
“Who goes first at a T-junction, again? As drivers, we all have a duty to keep our knowledge up to date, and that includes refreshing our memory of the Highway Code – particularly if you’ve spent a lengthy amount of time away from the road. New technologies mean the Code is constantly being updated. For example, it is now illegal to use your phone as a sat-nav if it’s not fixed on your windscreen or dashboard. Don’t get caught out!
- You’re packing different essentials
“It’s always a good idea to carry essentials when making any car journey. Depending on where you’re located and the time of the year, these essentials may include a map, tools for changing a tyre, and a torch and blanket. In 2021, however, it’s far more common to see a face mask dangling from your rear-view mirror than an air freshener!
- Your car needs some tender loving care
“The nationwide reduction in driving frequency has led to a significant increase in vehicle health issues. With drivers spending far less time on the road than before the pandemic, our car batteries are taking a bit of a hit. Less usage and extended periods of inactivity is the perfect marriage for a battery failure. If you know you’re using your car less often, it may be worth investing in a pair of jump leads to keep in your car boot, just in case.
- You tire more quickly
“It’s natural to feel nervous ahead of a long-distance drive, particularly if it’s to a new destination – and this anxiety can be made worse when you’ve been driving less often. With the right preparation, however, there’s no reason that your first long journey can’t go smoothly. Make sure to plan in regular breaks to prevent any fatigue or anxiety that has built up throughout the journey. Two hours should be the maximum period of time you drive for without a break, and each break should be a minimum of 15 minutes to get you rested, refuelled and ready to get back out on the road.”
Stoneacre Lincoln is fully open for essential services and MoT tests, as well as appointments to discuss its range of electric, hybrid, petrol, diesel and Volvo Selekt Approved Used Cars. For more information, please call 01522 501701 or email email@example.com.[i] Figures obtained from the Department for Transport (DfT) in June 2021 [ii] Figures obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2021