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Car Features

What impact will Covid-19 have on UK driving habits and motoring matters?

1 Apr , 2020  

One of the few upsides of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the reduction in air pollution because everyone is at home and the roads are quiet.  Grounded airlines also play a part in these improving figures.

But are there any other implications that Covid-19 might have on motoring habits other than leaving the car in the garage?  And are there any more subtle implications that haven’t yet come to light? Show Plates Express provides all the information in these unprecedented times.

 

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Can you drive in a lockdown?

Around the world, there are lockdowns in different counties, states and cities all with varying restrictions.  In Wuhan, the province in China where the outbreak first occurred, all travel was banned.  But can you drive in the UK?

If you follow the government guidelines of only going out for express purposes or going to ‘essential’ work then driving is permitted.  Sitting in your own car and only allowing those into it with whom you live is probably quite safe and will do little to spread the virus.

 

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Driving lessons

Would you allow your teenager to carry on having driving lessons with a motoring school or driving instructor?  That would not be a sensible policy, just think how many people have been in the car before you, hardly social distancing.  Some driving instructors are carrying on with lessons but how effectively can you sanitise a car after each pupil?

It is also in breach of the government’s lockdown regulations as driving tuition is not a permitted reason to leave home.  In the UK, the DVSA announced that it was suspending all driving tests for up to three months and certainly until April 20th.

The DVSA is, however, offering emergency driving tests to those who have a critical need or who perform an essential job function such as NHS workers and delivery drivers.

 

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Filling up at petrol stations

Providing the rules on social distancing are observed, filling up at petrol stations can be quite safe.  Always wear disposable gloves when handling the fuel pump and keep a safe distance away from other people when you are inside paying at the kiosk.

Use self-service pumps whilst still wearing disposable gloves.

 

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Pay-as-you-go insurance policies

If you think your car is going to be off the road for the duration, should you be considering a pay-as-you-go insurance policy also known as pay per mile insurance?  These policies charge a flat usually lower rate monthly or annually to have the car insured on the road and then the driver only pays per mile that they drive.  The cover is fully comprehensive so the vehicle is still protected against damage or theft whilst it is parked.

A black box is fitted to the car rather like the telematics used for young drivers and it tracks when the vehicle is driven and where it goes. This cover is not available for all vehicles and insurers typically exclude:-

  • Cars over 15 years old
  • Any vehicle worth over £40,000
  • A vehicle with seven seats
  • Commercial taxis even if they are in infrequent use

The advantages of pay-as-you-go are clear in a time when your motoring habits could be vastly different from normal.  However, if your driving pattern returns to where it was before then you could end up paying more for cover than you would with a traditional policy.

Also, if you break your current cover now, you may have to pay a charge or cancellation fee if your motor policy is mid term; that could still be worth it however if you motoring has become virtually non-existent or ceased completely.

 

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Other news concerning Covid-19 and the UK motoring population

  • All motorist charges in the capital were suspended from Monday, March 23rd indefinitely, this was announced by Transport for London (TfL). This includes the Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and is designed to better facilitate the movement around the capital of critical workers so NHS staff and the supply chain which is keeping supermarkets stocked up.
  • The DVSA are going to update about MOT testing very shortly having initially stated that motorists should not take their vehicles for MOT in light of the government’s isolation and social distancing policies.

    It has now stated that people should stay at home and only travel if absolutely necessary as set out in Government guidance.  Reading between the lines, if you are a key worker and your car’s MOT is due to expire then it is legitimate to have the vehicle tested so that you can legally remain on the road and go to work but there should soon be more clarification on this. Annual tests for buses, lorries and trailers have already been suspended for up to three months.

  • Car rental companies are expecting to see an uptake of their vehicles as many people shun the close proximity of public transport and look to hire cars instead to protect their health. Stringent new deep cleaning measures have been advised.

    Car hire companies believe their loss of airport traffic could be compensated for by an increase in ad hoc private rentals for those who want to avoid buses and trains

  • Fuel prices have dropped by on average 12p per litre for petrol and 8p per litre for diesel following a huge plunge in crude oil prices caused by a trade war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Brent crude oil is now at an eighteen-year low.

    The supermarket price slash is the largest fuel price cut ever made by retailers in one hit.  It’s a shame that only essential travel is permitted with these rock bottom prices and that motorists can’t actually reap the benefit.  The supermarkets are seeking to support key workers like NHS staff and this will also clearly have an impact on the supply chain for the delivery of goods like food and medicines.

  • Manufacturers and parts suppliers are not currently experiencing any difficulty in the supply of motor parts but think there could be issues further down the line

As with anything Coronavirus, it is a question of watch this space.  Motoring organisations and online forums are a good place to look for the latest developments and information.

 

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James Dempsey is originally from mother Russia. He works as a freelance journalist for various publishing companies and devours anything tech and car related. He has been a long standing contributor to Team Carwitter and helps keep the site viable.