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Number of unsafe vehicles on UK roads may surge following lockdown

  • Majority of drivers (68%) did not check tyre treads or engine oil levels before hitting the highways after lockdown restrictions eased.
  • Motorists more likely to clean their cars than carry out safety checks.
  • Almost two thirds (62%) of motorists are concerned about driving after lockdown.
  • Lockdown is driving changes in commuting habits – particularly among younger adults – with more planning to walk and cycle to work.
  • One in five (20%) hope to use their car to travel to a holiday destination in another part of the UK in the next three months.

More than a quarter (28%) of drivers have not performed any checks on their vehicles at all throughout lockdown, according to new analysis by Aviva.

Aviva’s research into motorists’ attitudes to driving post-lockdown reveals there could be an increase in the number of potentially dangerous vehicles on roads, with many motorists forgoing vehicle safety checks in recent months.

More than two thirds of drivers have not checked their tyre treads (68%) or engine oil levels (68%). In addition, six out of 10 (60%) haven’t tested their tyre pressures and two thirds (67%) haven’t looked at their lights.

In contrast, almost half of drivers (43%) have ensured their vehicles have looked the part by cleaning them during this time.

The number of unsafe vehicles may be exacerbated by the extension of MOT expiry dates. This extension could be leaving many cars, vans and motorcycles unchecked, potentially allowing unroadworthy vehicles to be driven. 

Despite this, many drivers plan to take long journeys using their car as lockdown restrictions ease. One in five (20%) plan to use their car to travel to a holiday destination in another part of the UK in the next three months, while one in ten (10%) will use their car to drive to the countryside. 

Top concerns for motorists as lockdown eases

Aviva’s research also reveals that almost two thirds (62%) of UK motorists are nervous about driving as the UK’s lockdown restrictions continue to ease.  


of UK motorists are nervous about driving as lockdown restrictions ease.  

More than a quarter of drivers are worried about increased traffic if people avoid using public transport (27%). A fifth of motorists are also worried pedestrians may step out without looking after being accustomed to quieter roads (19%), while one in eight (13%) are concerned there will be more delivery vehicles out and about.

There will be more cyclists on the road


There will be more traffic than before lockdown because people are worried about public transport


Pedestrians will not be used to cars being on the road and may step out without looking


There will be more people around jogging with headphones


The condition, maintenance and safety of my car


There will be more vans / delivery vehicles on the road


I will make mistakes while driving, due to lack of practice


New cycle lanes will alter existing routes and cause congestion


Lockdown to accelerate changes in commuting habits

The findings also suggest Government efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus by restricting use of public transport may accelerate permanent changes to workers’ commuting habits.

One in seven (15%) say they will use their car to drive to work post-lockdown, while one in ten (10%) plan to walk to work more often and 6% are more likely to cycle.


of 18-35 year olds said they will be walking to work more often.

Interest in using alternative modes of transport is higher among younger adults (18-35-year-olds): 15% state they will walk to work more often and 10% will cycle more often.

Sarah Applegate, Head of Global Strategy and Insight at Aviva comments:

"This latest research reveals motorists’ caution about driving as lockdown conditions ease. Drivers will inevitably be using their cars more often as restrictions lift and non-essential shops start to reopen, so they should prepare for this by ensuring their vehicles are up to scratch."

“To make sure our roads stay as safe as possible, drivers should carry out basic checks before they use their cars again. If people have any concerns about their vehicles, they should ask a professional mechanic to investigate, particularly before embarking on longer journeys.

“It’s also important for drivers to make sure their insurance policy suits their future driving needs. If people are likely to use their car significantly more or less post-lockdown, or drivers need to be added or removed from policies,  they should inform their insurance provider so their cover can be updated.” 

Aviva’s tips for motorists as they get in the driving seat post-lockdown:

  • Check your lights: Make sure your headlight covers are clean and check they work properly. If they flicker when tapped, they could be loose or damaged. Replace any blown bulbs.
  • Check your tyres: It is important to check your vehicle’s tyres are all the same size and inflated to the correct pressure. They should not have any cuts or other signs of damage. Make sure that the tread depth of all tyres is above the minimum legal requirement of 1.6mm by carrying out the 20p test.
  • Wipers and windscreen: Drivers should always have a clear view of the road. Make sure wipers are in working order, the washer bottle is topped up and the windscreen is in good condition. Too often drivers forget to top up washer fluids, but this is all the more important before taking a long drive.
  • Top up your fluids. In addition to windscreen washer fluids, it’s a good idea to examine engine oil and brake fluid levels, if they haven’t been checked for a while.
  • Number plates should be in good condition and meet legal requirements set out by the DVLA, such as using the correct font. Make sure that your number plates are clean, secured to your vehicle, and all letters and numbers are easily legible from a distance.
  • Check your seatbelts: Seatbelts play a crucial role in terms of road safety, so take a moment to ensure your seatbelts aren’t damaged or frayed, that they work properly and click into place securely.
  • Sign up to the government’s MOT reminder scheme and book with your garage in advance.


Media enquiries

Sarah Poulter

Group External Communications

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
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