What an odd few months it’s been right?
It’s safe to say, 2020 has been a tough year across the country for a variety of reasons.
As restrictions begin to ease and measures are put in place to allow people, businesses and places to reconnect with one another, it’s only natural, more people will be taking to the roads.
With that in mind, I thought I’d anticipate some of the concerns people reading this may have about driving a car in a post-COVID world.
I want to make it clear from the offset that this article does not constitute legal advice. Guidelines about driving and other aspects of daily life during the COVID-19 crisis have been rapidly changing. It’s always best to go directly to the government’s website for the latest news on lockdown measures.
Are the current rules relevant wherever you go in the UK?
In short, no. The UK is obviously made up of countries with devolved powers. This means that different parts of the UK have taken different approaches to tackle the spread of the virus.
Advice for England will not be the same as advice for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Again, government publications are the first place you need to be checking when planning a journey for the first time.
I definitely think this will remain part of the ‘new normal’ for quite some time. It’s probably worth making it a regular part of your pre-journey routine to check what restrictions there are to you driving in your area.
So where can I drive to?
In England, currently, you can make a pretty limitless trip. That is to say, you are entitled to drive anywhere else in the country. As of July 4th, overnight stays are permitted outside of the home. Therefore, I can conceive a return to the classic road-trip of pre-COVID times.
In Scotland and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland, these rules are different.
The fact remains that COVID-19 hasn’t passed as a threat entirely. Wherever you drive, social distancing measures of 2 Metres where possible and 1 metre + where 2 metres isn’t possible is still very much the case.
With this in mind, I’d suggest driving for a big meet up with loads of friends is pushing the current guidelines considerably.
What about big trips to see loved ones in other parts of the country?
Yes, this is now a possibility (providing the social distancing measures are being followed, etc.). I’d highly recommend checking beforehand what breakdown services are operating and what service stations you are safe to visit for those longer journeys.
It’s also worth checking things like the ULEZ restrictions in place within central London if you’re planning a trip in that direction.
And what is it like on the roads these days?
Actually, the roads aren’t a lot different this side of the COVID-19 pandemic as they were previously. This is especially true now restrictions have lifted a little bit.
The roads are a little bit quieter in general, however, that comes with increased dangers. Be a bit more cautious on the roads these days than you would have been before. Do plenty of pre-journey checks. Places like Carvine have a wealth of information on pre-journey checks and vehicle maintenance guides.
You’re likely to see a different makeup of the average road user as you travel around. Cities will likely have a higher prevalence of cyclists, for example than you might have previously been used to.
Another significant change you will likely observe if you are making longer journeys for the first time since lockdown began is that there are likely to be alterations in road layouts across the country.
In general, it shouldn’t feel too much different, getting from A to B now than it did before Corona; however, a little extra care when driving will keep you safe.
Should I just hop on a coach/train etc.?
This may seem counterintuitive in the age of greener travel but, right now you’re better off driving (or walking/cycling for those shorter journeys) than using any form of public transport.
Of course, it’s still important to consider the environmental impact of your journey and ways to minimise negative impact but, hopping on a bus could put you at higher risk of infection or infecting others than driving.
In General, not a lot has changed on the roads. They are quieter, and people are driving less, but they will still feel familiar.
Driving through COVID-19 is all about consciously thinking about safety and risk of infection. Be diligent and don’t ease up before the government does. Check the guidance regularly as it changes rapidly.