Fewer drivers give up daily car use during third lockdown

Around 10% more cars were in daily use during the first week of the latest restrictions compared with the first lockdown.

London traffic
London traffic

Fewer motorists have stopped making daily car trips than during the first coronavirus lockdown, according to figures.

Around 10% more cars were in daily use during the first week of the latest restrictions compared with the lockdown that began in March 2020, RAC analysis of trips made by its Black Box Insurance customers revealed.

But car use in the seven days from January 5 this year was still 22% lower than in February 2020, before the virus outbreak.

Separate Department for Transport figures show car use on Monday, a week after the third lockdown was announced, was at 56% of normal levels.

The figure for March 30, a week after the first lockdown was launched, was 33%.

Traffic volumes are at a similar level to mid-May last year, which was when coronavirus rules started to be relaxed and people were encouraged to return to workplaces if they were unable to work from home.

Bus use outside London is at 26% of normal levels, compared with 12% on March 30.

There have been calls for tougher restrictions amid surging coronavirus cases.

RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Despite the whole of the UK now being 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.”

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