Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of drivers say they now feel more nervous about driving than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The research by Spanish car manufacturer, SEAT found the equivalent of almost 10 million drivers1 feel more apprehesive about driving, now that the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions allows travel anywhere within the UK.
Almost half of the drivers surveyed2 (44 per cent) who said they now feel more nervous pointed to a lack of driving practice over the last year, while 42 per cent stated the return of high-volume traffic following a year of lockdowns was also to blame.
More than a quarter (26 per cent) feel less assured about their own parking skills.
SEAT offers an array of technology as standard on many models to make parking less daunting, including Park Assist (which will park the vehicle for the driver), a 360-degree Top View camera or front and rear parking sensors.
When on unfamiliar roads, technologies including Adaptive Predictive Cruise Control (maintains a driver-selected speed and automatically reduces it depending on traffic, change of speed zone and road layout) can help take the stress out of journeys. SEAT’s Dynamic Road Sign Display can also assist, with one-in-five respondents saying this would help make them feel less nervous.
SEAT’s Front Assist (which alerts the driver if they get too close to the vehicle in front and automatically applies the brakes in an emergency to prevent a collision) and Lane Keeping System (which helps keep the car in lane using corrective steering intervention), also help provide reassurance, with a respective 24 and 19 per cent of drivers stating these safety systems provide them with the feeling of added security behind the wheel.
With the global pandemic causing the UK to go into multiple lockdowns since March 2020, drivers have found themselves covering significantly fewer miles behind the wheel. Of those surveyed, 40 per cent estimated they had covered fewer than 2,500 miles since the first lockdown started, compared to just 11 per cent in the year before COVID-19.
Drivers in London have been the most impacted by the lockdowns, with 44 per cent claiming they are now more nervous about driving. Driving in big cities was ranked the second biggest cause for motorists feeling apprehensive about driving again, with driving at night taking the top spot.
Young drivers aged 18-24 were the most impacted age group, with a third stating they now feel less confident. In particular, 38 per cent feel less confident about parking compared to an average of 26 per cent for all age groups.
John French, Head of Product at SEAT UK, commented: “For much of the past 14 months, millions of motorists across the UK have been confined to their local area, driving on roads they’re acquainted with. Now, following the lifting of most social distancing restrictions, drivers are once again navigating unfamiliar places and faced with high volumes of traffic, tight parking spaces and certain road types they’ve perhaps become unaccustomed to. SEAT offers a huge number of technologies which help to alleiviate these concerns, encompassing parking, as well as city and motorway driving.”
1) Source: DVLA driver licence data Table DRL0101 March 2021. Total of 40,482,843 full driving licence holders in Great Britain. Survey of drivers reveals 24% are now more nervous behind the wheel – the equivalent of 9.72 million.
2) Survey carried out for SEAT UK with 2,000 respondents to individuals that currently hold a UK driving licence