With all that is going on in life at the moment, the world can seem a strange and daunting place. For the foreseeable future, life almost feels like it’s on hiatus, and it’s a big deal. Coronavirus has affected practically all walks of life, and that includes the driving and automotive industry too, from every possible angle.
Whether you drive professionally, fix cars, buy cars, sell cars, inspect cars or just use cars at all, this is taking its toll. To help you navigate through it all, CarExamer is here to do our bit and put all of the guidance that’s out there at the moment into one place, as well as answer some of the big questions that come along with it. It’s your safety on the line after all.
Driving During Coronavirus lockdown
The first thing that needs to be looked at before this goes any further at all is the government guidelines of driving right now. It is now prohibited to travel unnecessarily, so it’s essential to know what essential means right now. According to the government guidelines, the only reasons to be leaving are:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.
This guidance should not be taken lightly, and it’s pivotal that we follow this until told otherwise. That does sadly also include driving.
If you do need to drive during this time, it’s also a great idea to make sure you’re fully prepared for whatever you would need if you were outdoors without your car. Still ensure that you are protecting yourself.
Legal Effects of Coronavirus on Driving
Moving onto the more detail specifics of the situation, there are a lot of other changes that have happened in the automotive world as a result of all of these changes. Not being able to go out unless necessary has taken a big toll on all business after all, and this is no different.
When it comes to something as essential to life as driving and transportation however there are special circumstances that are in play too, so looking at all of these is a great way to make sure you stay in the know.
MOTs pushed back 6 Months
One of the biggest examples of this change in legislation and special circumstances coming into force s with the situation regarding the MOT certificate of vehicles in the UK. MOTs are essential to driving safely and legally, but now, so is avoiding contact and unnecessary travelling. As a result, a compromise has been made and it’s essential to know.
If your MOT is due for renewal from March 30th 2020 (we have a tool here to tell you), it now has a month extension automatically. That means you don’t need to rush or panic to get it done and still be able to drive legally. IF you’re still driving in this time, it is for essential reasons after all, and forbidding this may well do more bad than good. Despite all this, that isn’t a free pass.
This rule is only applying to vehicles that are still roadworthy.
It is essential in this time to make sure that your car is still fit for purpose and isn’t going to be a danger to you or anyone else on the road. Don’t take this extension for granted, and always make sure that your car is in a fit state to be used. Check your lights, tyres, brakes, oil, and other common problem areas; anything that you need to to ensure your safety. You’re likely not a mechanic, after all, so do what you can or seek external help if you need it to make sure your car is safe for you. Mobile car services are a great example, and mechanics are also still open for essential work where needed.
If you are planning to leave your car a while, it’s also a good time to SORN it if it’s off the road, and that way you don’t need insurance either (until you intend to drive or you re tax the car again).
Learning to drive Stopping
Another big legal effect the coronavirus has had on driving and business for that matter is with driving instruction, lessons and tests. These have all had restrictions put in place just like a huge range of other areas of life, and they need to be taken just as seriously.
The first example of this happening is that driving lessons are not allowed to go ahead. Driving lessons, of course, mean you need to be in an enclosed space less than 2 metres apart from other people for them to be carried out. That increases the risk of infection dramatically and is bound to allow an increase in the spread of the virus.
Self-employed driving instructors and driving schools alike all fall into the government’s various protection schemes here to ensure the safety of employees financially as well as the country from a health perspective.
Coronavirus has also, therefore, effected both practical and theoretical driving tests too because of this, meaning that huge delays have been put into place with refunds for tests cancelled. That has resulted in a 1-month delay for theory tests and a 3-month delay for practical tests as the climate stands. This is still extremely susceptible to change, so don’t count on this if you’re learning just yet.
It does have to be noted here however that professionals needing to drive for the NHS or the front-line work can get special exceptions from these rules, so take note of that too.
Effects of Coronavirus on driving
For the average joe and people that aren’t really needing any of the legal changes we’ve mentioned above, there are a few by-products that are having a huge impact on driving in general too. These are the little things that make a big difference in how we drive, so they are worth knowing about in case you need them.
Fuel Prices Dropping
One of the biggest and most useful examples of this in action for all drivers at this point is the effect this has had on the price of fuel. With travel bands and a huge range of other varying factors, the price of oil has dropped significantly globally. As a result, that means that fuel prices have too, and we can fill up for much less than usual.
That isn’t to say however that it’s a good idea to start travelling more just to make the most of it. We’re on lockdown for a reason, so ensure you stick to it. Supermarkets are often at the forefront of fuel price drops, so you can fill up as and when you need to go shopping if that is going to help. In any case, it’s also worth noting at this point that you still need to sanitise when fuelling your car too. Be careful.
Car Sales Dropping
Another huge by-product of all of this when you look at it from a broader perspective is that car availability has dropped too. Dealerships and private sellers alike are scare in these times because of what’s going and minimised contact, so buying and selling cars at the moment can be a tricky thing to do.
If you desperately need a new car, going online is going to be the best bet here, but also always, makes sure you’re being careful. Don’t rush into anything, don’t risk your health, and still adhere to government guidelines as much as physically possible. If you do need a car for work etc, just be careful about what you’re doing.
Safe Driving Habits during COVID-19
Lastly, to help keep you as safe as you can possibly be if you do need to drive amongst all of this chaos, it’s also great to learn some of the best driving habits you can employ to keep you safe too. There are always a few little things you can pull into action when you need to that help make sure you’re staying safe when driving despite the coronavirus’ effects.
Carry sanitizing products
One of the biggest effects that coronavirus has had on driving and the rest of life is in sanitisation. Always make sure you’re carrying cleaning products with you. You never know what’s going to happen or where you’re going to do. There are lots of different things you touch on your way to your car or even in it, so keep clean as much as you can do. Prevention is the key.
Check up on breakdown cover
Breakdown services may be struggling just as much as other businesses here. Make sure you know the best ways to contact them should you need to. There are some unique and challenging protocols coming into play because of what’s happening, it’s always smart to know what to do if you need to.
Don’t share Vehicles
Lastly, make sure that you’re not sharing any vehicles with anyone not a member of your household. Like we said above with driving lessons, cars are just small enclosed spaces with a lot of different things to touch. This is asking for trouble when something as infectious as COVID-19 is at large. Do yourself a favour and make sure you isolate even when you’re out and about. That goes for carsharing to work too, even if it is a lot easier.
All of this information can really be vital to helping you stay safe, especially in a time of such crisis like we’re in now. Things are changing constantly too, so it’s essential to keep as up to date as you possibly can do at all times. Check-in on the government guidelines regularly and where possible to make sure you have the best and most relevant information.
All of this affects every single one of us, so do all you can to keep safe. The quicker that we react as a society to all that’s happening right now, the quicker it will be dealt with and we can all go back to normality in safety. If we all do our part, we can get through it as soon as possible.
Stay safe and share this with anyone who needs to know!