RAC data confirms car use is rising as lockdown continues

08.44 | 8 May 2020 |

Ahead of this weekend’s announcement on how the UK might begin to ease coronavirus restrictions, a RAC study confirms drivers are already using their cars more than they were earlier in the lockdown period.

The study analysed RAC black box driving data, breakdown numbers and route planning statistics – comparing the second week of lockdown (w/c 30 March) with last week (w/c 27 April).

It found 11% more cars were on the road and 23% more daily miles were driven.

Meanwhile, vehicle breakdowns attended by RAC patrols rose – up by 18% – as did the number of routes planned via the RAC Routeplanner 

More routes were planned on Monday 5 May than on any other day during the lockdown – with 16% more planned on this day than just a week earlier.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “There is now mounting evidence that people are venturing back out in their vehicles for more essential, as well as arguably non-essential journeys. 

“This perhaps is being driven by lockdown fatigue and boredom while the sunny spring weather might also be enticing drivers back into their vehicles. 

“Our own data clearly shows a slight, but nonetheless steady, rise in the number of drivers using their vehicles, and the distances they are travelling in them on a daily basis, compared with earlier in the lockdown.”

The data is supported by the findings of a new survey by the RAC in which 41% of respondents admitted to using their vehicles more frequently than earlier in lockdown.

The survey of 1,500 drivers found that the top reason for using a car more was for food and grocery shopping (23%), while 9% said that they were doing so to pick up essential supplies or for trips to a pharmacy. 

A small but appreciable 5% said they were using their vehicle more now to specifically purchase alcohol – while the same proportion (5%) said they were going out in the car specifically to visit DIY stores.



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