A recent study conducted by Refused Car Finance, found that a third of drivers found the COVID-19 guidance relating to driving ‘difficult’ to understand. With ever-changing regulations which vary by region and local lockdowns, it’s no surprise that 36.5% of UK drivers surveyed were confused as to what they can and can’t do.

How far can you drive during covid-19?

On March 23rd 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the country should ‘stay at home’ and only drive if completely necessary and if you have a reasonable excuse.
Reasonable excuses included:

  • For medical reasons and to provide care for vulnerable people
  • For basic necessities such as food but you should limit the frequency of your visits
  • Travelling to and from work if you cannot work from home

It was also advised that you can participate in 1 hour’s exercise per day and the government advised that you should ‘stay local’ for your daily walk, jog or cycle. This information was confusing for drivers as further rules stated that you could drive to visit a destination for exercise, but you should not drive for a prolonged period of time with only brief exercise.

As the lockdown eased, there were no longer any restrictions on how far you could travel, people were encouraged to safely return to offices and workplaces and hotel, holidays homes and campsites reopened.

From July 4th 2020, people were able to book a holiday or night away at many popular UK ‘staycations’ and hotels. Our survey had revealed that only 16.7% of drivers had driven to a UK staycation since the new rules had come into play.

Can you drive with COVID-19 symptoms or whilst self-isolating?

It is advised that whilst self-isolating, you and members of your household should remain at home at all time. You should not go to work, school or any public areas including supermarkets. You should not leave the house to buy food or other essentials, meaning you should not drive whilst self-isolating. Instead you should ask family or friends to shop for you or arrange online shopping and delivery.

6.3% of our anonymous drivers surveyed said they have driven whilst they were supposed to be self-isolating and 7.9% admitted they had driven whilst experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Can you carshare with someone outside your household or support bubble?

From our recent survey, over 1/4 of drivers had said that they have shared a car with someone outside of their household or support bubble. Is this illegal, not advised or just frowned upon?

In September 2020, many local lockdown restrictions came into play as COVID-19 cases started to rise again in areas such as North East, Greater Manchester, Leicester, North West, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. People are still being encouraged to go to work where possible but to avoid using public transport.

New guidelines from the Department of Transport relating to car sharing outline that if you usually car share with someone outside your household e.g. a colleague then you should try to find a different way to travel and minimise the risk of social contact. However, the official guidelines say you can car share with someone outside of your household as long as you take precautions to minimise the risk of infections. Some of these precautions include:

  • Share the transport with the same people each time
  • Open windows for ventilation
  • Face away from each other
  • Clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • Ask the driver and passengers to wear a face covering

Should you wear a face mask or covering whilst driving?

As stated above, one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread is to wear a face mask or face covering whilst traveling with someone outside of your household. 87% of drivers in our survey said they do not wear a face mask whilst driving.

An article published by Express.co.uk on 5th August 2020 stated that drivers could fined £1,000 for wearing a face covering behind the wheel. Could this be the reason why many drivers do not choose to wear a mask? If your vision is impaired by wearing a mask or by a mask fogging up your glasses, you could be putting yourself at risk of a hefty fine. Road users may be unable to react to or see road hazards which may result in an accident. This rule falls under distracted driving or driving without due care and attention.

Should you buy a car during COVID-19?

Our recent consumer survey showed that over 80% of drivers had not bought, leased or financed a new/used car throughout COVID-19. Another article by AM-Online reports “Consumer research released from CarGuide has revealed that COVID-19 has stopped almost a third of UK drivers (32%) from changing their car in 2020.”

With many people still working from home where possible and local lockdown encouraging drivers to stay at home more, there are a number of households across the UK whose cars are spending more time on the driveway than on the road.

Also, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme statistics release published in August 2020 reported that in total, 9.6 million employments had been furloughed through CJRS (32% of eligible employments) for at least part of the period between March to June 2020. With this in mind, many people in the UK may be worried about the security of their job and current income.

Can you get a new pet during COVID-19?

As the months go on, the restrictions on how far you can drive and the reason for your journey has increased and became more flexible. As mentioned, at the start of lockdown, travelling was only for essentially reasons only. With more people being stuck at home, having more time on their hands and turning to pets for comfort, new research from The Kennel Club revealed that puppy sales have boomed under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Registrations of new puppies jumped by 26 per cent between the start of April and the end of June – while a fifth of new owners admit they don’t know whether their dog will suit their lifestyle as lockdown eases.

However, out of our 126 drivers surveyed, 92% had said they had not driven to pick up a new pet during COVID-19. The Kennel Club had urged people to not ‘impulse buy’ any new pets during the pandemic as it may lead to pets that cannot be looked after once life resumes to ‘normal’ and may increase the number of pets in shelters in the long run.