Our guide to driving during the lockdown in the UK
Last week, the UK Government announced a further three-week extension on the lockdown due to Coronavirus.
There is a nationwide appeal for residents to remain inside their homes wherever possible to avoid the spread of Covid-19 and ease the pressure on NHS. But sometimes we cannot avoid using our cars, as it’s often the only mode of transport for key workers to get to work, to shop for basic necessities or to care for vulnerable people.
But what are the best methods to keep yourself safe if you have to use your car during lockdown?
There are things all of us can take to minimise the spread of Coronavirus for both ourselves and other people in society – to do this, we take a look at 5 extremely easy changes you can make to each of your journeys, with minimal effort involved:
1) Reduce the number of passengers
Firstly, make sure that you minimise your interaction with people to reduce exposure to the virus – this means limiting passengers in your vehicle. It is best practice to only drive people who absolutely need to be in the car – whether that be a key worker you are driving to work or an infant who cannot be left to their own devices.
The cockpit of your car is an incredibly small area which creates an ideal breeding ground for Covid-19 to spread. Picking up work colleagues, or driving people around who live outside your household may seem like a friendly gesture, but in fact, it may increase yours and their risk of contracting this potentially deadly virus.
Whilst we would normally advocate ride-sharing to help combat the environmental damage caused by driving, we would recommend that you do not do this until the lockdown has been lifted and social distancing is removed.
2) Grab a cloth and start scrubbing
The most common, and adapted method for dealing with any virus is to try and kill it at its source – this means making sure that you adopt a thorough cleaning routine for both yourself and your property.
Give your car a lovely spring clean, using disinfectant to treat all those high-traffic areas on the interior and exterior of your car (i.e. door handles, steering wheel, and radio/infotainment system). Grabbing household cleaning products (bleach-free disinfectant) will do the trick to keep every surface of your car free from Coronavirus.
Check out this article on how to clean the interior of your car.
This is a hugely important step in ensuring that you do not bring the virus back to your own household after being at work, visiting the shops, or coming into close contact with other people.
Our advice would be to make sure that you keep cleaning products like disinfectant in the glovebox (or somewhere easily accessible), so you can clean surfaces each and every time you jump behind the wheel.
3) Stick to the speed
Speeding is inherently dangerous in any setting, but especially on public roads.
Last month, the BBC reported that ‘Motorists are exploiting quieter than usual roads to drive at “highly excessive speeds” according to Police in Yorkshire. You may be tempted to go a little faster than the speed limit because there are no cars around, but please avoid doing this at all costs.
Drivers who choose to press down firmly on their accelerator not only risk their own safety, but also pull the already stretched emergency services away from essential jobs. To protect the NHS and yourself, please make sure that you do not use empty roads as a reason for excessively speeding.
4) Reduce the number of trips you take
The guidance surrounding leaving your house on any given day is fairly clear – but just because you can, does this mean you should?
As we have mentioned, taking trips on the roads increases the likelihood of accidents, which pull emergency services away from other calls. So try and limit the number of times you use your car in the week, and avoid ANY unessential travel.
Of course, people who live in rural settings are likely to need their vehicles on a more frequent basis than those living in the confines of a city, due to the sporadic nature of shops and workplaces in this type of environment. However, the advice remains the same, regardless of your location – try to limit the amount of trips taken.
One great way to do this is to plan ahead – make sure you stock up with enough food to last you a week, ensure your medication does not run out and post all your mail in one go. This pre-planning may take more effort, but it should go some way to keeping you safe.
Please do avoid over-shopping while at the supermarkets to avoid shortages for others – we recommend only buying what you truly need for your household.
5) Remain careful at petrol stations
This final piece of advice has the same principles as when you go shopping in the supermarkets – make sure you wear gloves. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the best way to avoid making direct physical contact with any surfaces which are frequently used by a large number of people.
These high-contact areas (i.e. petrol pumps) increase the likelihood of picking up the virus, as we cannot be completely certain that everybody before you was free from Coronavirus, so grabbing a pair of disposable gloves is the best way to avoid this.
Another piece of advice is to make the payment using a card instead of cash (plastic notes have been seen to carry the virus for a few days, according to the UN).
But what about people who have no PPE or need to use cash?
The advice is simple – be extra careful. If possible, wash your hands using either soap or hand sanitiser when you’re out and about to remove any trace of the virus. Try to make contact with anything else until your hands are clean (i.e. your car keys, phone or wallet).