New drivers’ confidence hit during lockdown
Research shows that students and new drivers have struggled with the lockdown effects
The pandemic has not just adversely affected driving instructors, but also their students.
Having spent much of the last year in various states of lockdown, people across the UK have experienced substantial changes to every part of their daily routine. With government advice to work from home where possible and not to drive except for essential purposes, motor traffic decreased and driving lessons and tests were completely suspended at various points.
A new survey by car insurance provider Adrian Flux investigates how the lockdowns have impacted new drivers in the UK. This includes those who recently passed their test prior to the first lockdown as well as those still taking lessons. It could mean that, more than ever, drivers are looking to refresh their skills alongside those learning for the first time.
Almost a third (32.1%) of new and learner drivers admitted to having lost some of their confidence due to lockdown. 42% of women stated that they were now less confident in their driving, compared to 21.6% of men.
Loss of confidence was most pronounced among the 55-64 age group (48.6%), while younger drivers had mixed feelings: almost as many 18-24-year-olds stated that they’d gained confidence (23.2%) as that they’d lost it (29.1%).
Regionally, the largest percentage of drivers who were less confident came from Wales (42.9%), Yorkshire (42.2%) and Scotland (40%). The largest percentage of drivers who were more confident came from London (26.9%).
The number of people who said they were not ready to get back behind the wheel remained consistent between those learning before the first lockdown versus people learning before the second lockdown (33.9% v 32.1%).
In Scotland, 55.6% were not ready to start again after the first lockdown. This reduced by half to 22.7% for the second lockdown, with the Scottish contingent feeling more ready than any other region to restart lessons.
More than half of those surveyed (53.1%) said they missed or seriously missed driving during the pandemic, with those learning to drive in the first lockdown saying they missed or seriously missed driving more than those learning during the October lockdown – 56% versus 45.5%.
But not everyone was keen to get back behind the wheel. The majority of drivers aged 35+ said they did not miss driving, with the number rising with age – from 55.2% among 35-44-year olds to 94.1% in the 65+ bracket.
Naive not innocent
Many new drivers felt the need to make unnecessary journeys during the first and second national lockdowns. Overall, 45.7% admit breaking the rules. Younger drivers were more likely to make unnecessary journeys, with 46.3% of drivers aged 18-24 admitting to making at least one.
However, it was the 25-34 age group that were the least law abiding – 58.3% admitting to making unnecessary journeys.
“For many people, driving is an enjoyable activity and is one that is often taken for granted. The number of people who’ve missed having it as part of their routine during the pandemic has confirmed how much the British public loves driving and their cars.” Says Gerry Bucke, General Manager at Adrian Flux.
“But for many inexperienced or older drivers, the break has impacted their confidence and willingness to get back behind the wheel. When people can get back on the road, it’s possible that we’ll see an increase in insurance claims as this lack of confidence and lack of practice leads to mistakes, and to accidents.”