Aviva says most drivers did not even check tyres or oil before setting off after lockdown.

A leading car insurance provider has warned of a “surge” in unsafe vehicles on UK roads as the coronavirus lockdown is lifted. The fears are fuelled by an Aviva survey that found more than two-thirds of British drivers neglected to carry out basic vehicle checks before they returned to the road after lockdown.

The study of more than 2,000 UK motorists found 68 percent had not checked their car’s engine oil level or tyre tread before they got back on the road, while more than a quarter (28 percent) had not carried out any checks whatsoever. Similarly, 60 percent confessed not checking their tyre pressures after lockdown, while 67 percent didn’t check their lights.

Strangely, though, almost half the drivers questioned said they had cleaned their cars during lockdown to make sure they looked the part back on the open road. With these figures in mind, maybe it’s something of a surprise that Aviva’s study found 62 percent of drivers were nervous about driving after lockdown.

Young woman driving in the rain

More than a quarter (27 percent) of those quizzed said they were worried about increased traffic as people avoid public transport, while 19 percent worried pedestrians accustomed to quieter streets may step out without looking. And 13 percent were concerned there may be more delivery drivers out and about.

Yet just 15 percent said they were concerned about the condition, maintenance or safety of their own vehicle – one of the few things over which they have some control on the post-lockdown roads. Similarly, a mere 11 percent expressed concern that they may make mistakes while driving due to a lack of practice.

MOT test

Despite this, the survey showed a fifth (20 percent) of drivers plan to use their car to travel to a holiday destination in the UK over the next three months. And 10 percent said they will use their car to drive to the countryside.

Aviva says the results suggest motorists’ lack of vehicle checks could lead to increased numbers of unsafe vehicles on the road – particularly in light of the government’s MoT extensions, which grant vehicles due to be tested between March 30 and August 1 an extra six months on their MoT certificate. This means vehicles that should be having their annual safety check now will not need to be tested until January.

Mechanic checking taillight in auto service garage

According to Aviva, this measure will allow a sizeable number of cars, vans and motorcycles to go unchecked, even though some may be harbouring potentially dangerous faults. Driving an unroadworthy vehicle is an offence, and Aviva is urging drivers to check their cars over to ensure they stay safe and legal.

“This latest research reveals motorists’ caution about driving as lockdown conditions ease,” said Sarah Applegate, head of global strategy and insight at Aviva. “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.

Commercial vehicles driving on quiet motorway

“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.”