Lockdown Relaxations May Increase Road Traffic Accident Risk

Author:
Simon Stanfield
Partner, Head of Road Traffic Accidents
Date:
02/07/2020

As lockdown restrictions ease and drivers head back out on the roads, our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors are concerned about possible new dangers to road users.

Many drivers will be out of practice behind the wheel, some may not carry out basic vehicle checks, and more people plan to travel by bike. We’ve also seen more drivers being caught speeding across England and Wales during lockdown, as many thought they could get away with it.

So I’d urge anyone heading out on the roads to be extremely careful, to keep to speed limits and seriously think about whether you can make your journey safely.

What New Hazards Face Drivers?

Lack of Driving Practice

48% of motorists polled are worried that driving standards will be worse now that restrictions are being lifted, according to a Hyundai poll. But it’s not just other people’s driving that they’re worried about.

18% admit that with so little driving in the last few months, they’ve found it hard to get back behind the wheel. As a result, they’ve made far more basic errors than before, such as stalling, forgetting to indicate, not checking mirrors when pulling away and scraping their wheels on the kerb.

This is very worrying, as it means many other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists could be at greater risk as they head out in the coming days and weeks.

Lockdown Speeding

Sadly, I’m seeing more fatal and life changing road traffic accidents, and breaking the speed limit is often a major factor. The speed limit is not a guideline, it is the maximum, and by breaking the speed limit, you are not only endangering your own life but those of others too.

According to the Hyundai poll, 44% of drivers believe other road users have been driving faster during lockdown. Just this week, the Met Police confirmed the number of motorists caught speeding in London went up by 71% when lockdown started, with one driver clocking up to 163 mph on a 70 mph road. 

Figures also showed that:

  • 3,282 Traffic Offence Reports were issued by the Met to speeding drivers in April 2020, compared to 1,922 a year earlier.
  • Over 14,000 motorists were caught speeding by roadside cameras in London during April 2020.

Among the highest speeds recorded in some zones was:

  • 134 mph on a 40 mph road
  • 110mph on 30mph road
  • 73mph on a 20mph road

While speeding drivers is not a new problem on the roads, the sheer number of people currently flouting the rules is a danger we all need to be aware of.

More Cyclists on the Road

With limits on the number of people allowed to board public transport, the UK Government is encouraging more of us to cycle instead.

Many of the people taking that advice may be relatively inexperienced, and that’s causing concerns for drivers in particular. 44% of motorists polled for Hyundai said they were worried about the prospect of more cyclists taking to the road.

Are Vehicles Roadworthy after Lockdown?

As vehicles have sat largely unused for several months, it’s possible that many people will get back behind the wheel without carrying out basic vehicle checks. I’d strongly urge you to check your tyre tread and pressure, see if your lights are working and if oil and water levels are adequate, before you take to the road.

Also, MOT expiry dates for cars, vans and motorcycles were extended for 6 months if it was due on or after March 30th 2020. Many of these vehicles could have major or dangerous defects that would normally be identified in an MOT test.

Driving a faulty car is not only illegal, but it’s also extremely dangerous, to yourself, your passengers and any other road users who are nearby.

So don’t risk serious injury to you or anybody else by not checking whether your vehicle is safe to drive.

For free legal advice call our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors

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