The RAC has warned that “every unnecessary journey increases the chances of a road traffic collision”, with data showing that car use has not fallen to the same extent in the latest Covid-19 lockdown as it did during the first in March 2020.
During the first week of the current lockdown (5-11 January), data from RAC Black Box Insurance shows there were on average 10% more cars in daily use than during the first week of the March 2020 lockdown – leading to 31% more daily miles driven.
However, the figure still represents a 22% reduction in car use compared to ‘normal’.
The RAC believes traffic volumes are now at a similar level to the middle of May 2020, which is when restrictions first started to be eased, with people encouraged to return to workplaces if they were unable to work from home.
It also points to the ‘incredibly’ high number of breakdowns attended by RAC patrols so far this year – reporting its busiest start to a New Year on record, with 8% more breakdowns handled over the first four days of January compared to the same period in previous years.
While the RAC says cold weather and the fact cars were used even less than normal over Christmas will both have been major factors, it adds the data confirms that drivers are still deeming it necessary to use their vehicles for essential trips in 2021.
The breakdown organisation is calling on motorists to “think carefully” before using their vehicles.
Rod Dennis, RAC data insight spokesman, said: “Despite the whole of the UK now under a further coronavirus lockdown, our data shows the number of cars in use has not dropped to the same extent it did the first time restrictions were brought in last March.
“The feel of this latest nationwide lockdown is very different to that which was first imposed in 2020 with greater numbers of people working in ‘Covid-secure’ workplaces, more shops offering click-and-collect services, and more children of key workers attending schools.
“In addition, with so many avoiding public transport, there will inevitably be far more people opting for the safer environment of the car. Together, these differences help account for the busier roads.
“Nonetheless, it’s vital drivers think carefully before using their vehicles and ensure they’re only venturing out for essential trips as specified by government guidelines.
“Every unnecessary journey increases the chances of a breakdown, or worse a road traffic collision, and risks adding to the pressures being experienced by our emergency and healthcare workers.”