Loco in Lockdown
Covid-19 and the lockdown are all we ever seem to see, hear or read about at the moment. It is practically inescapable and is, in some way, disrupting the lives of every single one of us.
After the lockdown was announced in March, there was (at least initially) a sharp reduction in the use of our roads. During one of my recommended walks, I suddenly found an unexpected sense of peace and quiet as the roads were almost completely deserted. The typical chaos of roads in London had always deterred me from cycling and so I took this downturn in traffic as an opportunity and made cycling my daily exercise.
I can’t remember exactly how long that lasted as my perception of time is completely skewered. I think I enjoyed a weekend or two of quiet roads at most. The AA recently stated that our roads are almost as busy as pre-lockdown with the breakdown group reporting that roadside call-outs are back to 90% of expected levels.
The Government is now actively encouraging those who cannot stay at home to return to work. Social distancing, however, means that our public transport system will only have the capacity for one-tenth of the commuting population so we suspect the roads will become even busier. Increased traffic invariably means increased risk and so we wanted to try and provide a few tips for staying safe if driving over the coming weeks.
- Plan your journey
This is the ultimate point that we cannot stress enough. A significant portion of accidents and offences occur due to insufficient planning. When we don’t plan our time effectively we increase the risk of:
- Running late and speeding
- Becoming distracted (doing your hair in the car for example….)
- Becoming frustrated/angry at road conditions which increase the chance of an accident
You should always try to plan each journey properly especially if it is not routinely made. Smartphones offer many ways to assist with traffic reports, commute times, the best routes to take and so we urge you all to utilise your time effectively.
As a follow-up to tip one, staying relaxed means you stay effective behind the wheel. If there’s an unexpected accident ahead of you then don’t worry. It can’t be helped and getting agitated will do nothing for your mood or your journey time. When we become stressed and angry we tend to be more rash as a result of the building frustration. Just try to accept that whatever has happened, is beyond your control and you just have to get on with it. Hopefully, if you’ve planned your journey in advance you may have given yourself some leeway when it comes to unexpected delays but try opening a window or putting some music on to help make the delay even partially more bearable.
We have been able to enjoy some great weather recently and hopefully, this is set to continue. When you’re out and about driving, the sun can prove a huge distraction, particularly on busy roads as there are many more reflective surfaces to glare your vision.
- Breakdown essentials
If your vehicle hasn’t had regular use recently it may be more inclined to experience problems. If you do ever breakdown there are some essentials you should ensure you carry which are:
- Mobile phone charger
- Hi-vis jacket
- Red warning triangle
- Puncture repair kit
- Warm/waterproof clothing
- Jump leads
- Empty fuel can
- First aid kit
- Drive Defensively
Defensive driving covers a wide range of skills you should employ to prevent dangerous situations on the road before these occur. You should plan for ways you can react in an emergency situation, like if another vehicle were to try and merge into you. In addition to this, you should also:
- Keep your eyes scanning traffic and road conditions.
- Identify vehicles that appear unsafe, such as those that are erratically merging across lanes, speeding dangerously, or drifting within a lane.
- Follow the flow of traffic.
- Signal before making a turn or merging into a lane.
- Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles/structures.
- Never drive while tired or emotionally agitated.
Most offences that can arise during busy traffic carry penalty points. Offences like speeding, careless driving, running a red light etc are, for most people, a minor annoyance. It seems likely that our roads are going to be extremely busy for at least a few more months and the daily frustration of a poorly planned commute may take its toll and result in a number of offences.
If you are charged with an offence which would see the total number of points on your licence hit 12 or more, then you may be at risk of a 6-month disqualification from driving. This may be the last thing you want during this difficult period and so we urge you all to stay safe, be mindful of the road conditions and contact us if you need any advice.