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COVID-19 – Driving life slowly returning

August 7, 2020 by in category Covid-19, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Covid-19 > COVID-19 – Driving life slowly returning

As lockdown restrictions continue to be eased, more and more people are now taking to the roads once again, with some of us having been off the roads for several months.

The Department for Transport (DfT) have been publishing statistics on the usage of transport throughout the pandemic, which you can view here. There is clear data demonstrating lower vehicle usage during the initial lockdown phase, with the data now showing usage climbing up, as lockdown restrictions are eased.

This blog aims to be a helping hand in what to expect on the roads, and what to check before getting back behind the wheel.

MOT’s and safety checks

The Ministry of Transport test (MOT) came into practice in the 1960’s and is mandatory for all vehicles and details the vehicle’s roadworthiness. As vehicles have progressed, the MOT has been amended to include new requirements that a vehicle must pass to be deemed road safe. Most recently in 2019, it included checks on tyre pressure, brake lights and pads and testing of brake fluid.

At the start of the outbreak, drivers who required a MOT test were granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing, however with restrictions being eased, this exemption has been updated.

The Government has now confirmed that any vehicle that is due for a MOT test from 1st August 2020, will be required to get a test certificate to continue driving their vehicle. Drivers with a MOT test due before 1st August 2020 will still receive the 6-month exemption from testing.

The car should still be properly maintained in a roadworthy condition as you could still be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.

Having a defective or dangerous tyre can amount to a fine of £2,500.00 and 3 penalty points per tyre. To find out more on how to safely measure the tyre tread depth please see our blog on how to do so here.

Check your speed

check your speedSpeeding offences are the most prolific driving offence, with a record of 2.4 million motorists being issued penalties last year alone, according to analysis of data by the RAC Foundation. These statistics review each borough in England and Wales and analyse the findings from 2019 to that of the previous year. You can see how your borough compares to neighbouring boroughs here.

West Yorkshire Police stated that despite traffic and vehicle usage being 70% lower, there had been an increase in speeding offences with 588 speeding tickets issued in April 2020. In London there were thirteen forces that also saw a rise in speeding offences occur during lockdown.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police clarified that many drivers caught speeding during lockdown did not expect officers to be patrolling the near-deserted roads, saying:

“Because of Covid and the demands upon the emergency services at that time, I think there might have been a consideration to remove some assets and deploy elsewhere. But we didn’t do that in London.

Maybe some people [tried to take] advantage because congestion was less and thought they’d get away with it.”Detective Superintendent Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police

The highest recorded speed was 163mph on a 70mph road, and 134mph on a 40mph road. Superintendent Andy Cox also tweeted that in the week of April 28th, the London Police force had enforced 2,020 speeding offences compared to 268 in the same week in 2019.

The DfT data suggests that while there in an increase in road users, the rate has not returned to that of before lockdown was issued in March. Therefore, with congestion being reduced and the roads being quieter than usual, you may find yourself with more open roads than what you are used to. So, remember to check your speed regularly to ensure that despite the clearer roads, your speed does not exceed the legal limit. Especially as the speed cameras and eagle-eyed police officers remain operational, despite minimal road occupancy.

What to expect if you have been charged with a driving offence during lockdown

Before lockdown, motorists across the country drove regularly, whether that be to commute to work, socialise or take trips. With additional concerns of the use of public transport, the data is clear that more people are taking to the roads. With this in mind, we remind users to take extra care to keep themselves and their communities safe.

The judicial system was still progressing throughout lockdown; however, the courts’ time was mainly reserved for serious offences. The courts are slowly dealing with the backlog and have begun hearing offences and matters that do not solely amount to a custodial sentence.

Regardless of how the courts are operating, if you have been charged with an offence, always seek the advice of a solicitor. Here at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, we have continued to assist our clients throughout lockdown with legal issues and advice. If you have been involved in a collision, have received a driving offence notification or have been charged with a driving offence, do not hesitate to contact our office for free initial legal advice.

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