5 ways the pandemic changed our driving

Author Name – Ben Garner

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It’s been almost two years since the first lockdown, which has impacted the way many of us drive. From fewer cars on the road to MOT extensions, we’ll be taking a look at 5 ways the pandemic has changed our driving.

pandemic driving

Fewer Cars On The Road

2020 saw a decrease of 24.7% of car traffic from 2019, according to the Department for Transport. This was the lowest amount of annual car traffic in the last 29 years, with motorways seeing the biggest decrease in terms of types of roads used, changing by -32.1%.

This shows that with the lockdown, people were making fewer long journeys, as advised by the government at the time. Even when restrictions were eased in the summer of 2020, traffic saw a minor increase but still remained below 2019 levels.

MOT Extensions

With traffic decreasing during lockdown, fewer people were using their cars. To avoid the use of cars that didn’t have an MOT and to prevent the gathering of people at garages, the government extended the current MOT’s lifespan. If a cars MOT expired between the 30th of March 2020 and the 31st of July 2020, the MOT was automatically extended by 6 months.

According to DVSA there were around 10 million MOTs that were extended, leading to an increase in unsafe cars on the road. We noticed a marked increase in tyres worn below the legal limit. A lot of these cars weren’t driven through the pandemic, potentially because people didn’t want to drive an unsafe vehicle. This may have contributed to the reduction of traffic on the roads.

To book an MOT for your car, click the button below.

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Driving Tests

The pandemic led to any potential new drivers having to wait to resume their lessons or take their practical test. During lockdowns, it was deemed unsafe to be in a vehicle with a person from outside your household. This meant that no lessons or tests could take place, leading to a major backlog of learners waiting to take their tests.

Whilst there’s now less of a wait to book a practical test, when bookings were first reopened there was a waiting time of up to 10 months, according to the Independent. This led to a decrease in learners and recently passed drivers on the roads.

Looking After Your Car

With cars not being used during the pandemic, many cars were left unusable. Without regular usage, car batteries will go flat, meaning the car won’t be able to turn over due to a lack of electricity. This contributed to the lack of traffic once the lockdown had been eased, with cars being unable to start due to battery failure increasing by a third. If you’re looking to buy a new battery for your car, click the link below.

Related: Search batteries

If a car is left to stand still for a few months, tyre pressures can decrease, leading to a flat tyre. This may lead to cracks in the tyre, which can be very dangerous as it could lead to a puncture or a tyre blowout. With the temperature increasing during lockdown, this also leads to a change in tyre pressure.

If the temperature increases by 5.5°C the tyre pressures can be raised by 2%. If the temperature decreases by the same amount, your tyre pressures can be reduced by 2%. This is why it is vitally important if you are about to head for a long drive, especially in cold temperatures, to check your tyres before you drive. If you need new tyres for your car, click the link below.

Related: Search tyres

More Cyclists On The Road

With cars not being used, cyclists became more common on the road, especially as a way of exercise. In 2020, the number of pedal cycles on the road increased by 45.7% from 2019, according to the Department for Transport. This was the highest level of cyclists on the public highway since the 1960s.

Cycling peaked in May 2020, with a 75% increase compared to May 2019. Cycling levels remained high during the summer months, with many people choosing cycling as a form of exercise whilst working from home. Cycling levels returned to a similar level to 2019 once Winter began.

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