Driving under lockdown poses plenty of risks that many motorists will not have considered. I shine a spotlight on what you need to know so you can keep on the right side of the law.
What are the rules on essential travel?
UK Government advice is that you should stay at home as much as possible. The reasons you may leave home include:
- For work, where you cannot work at home
- Going to shops that are permitted to be open – to get things like food and medicine
- To exercise or spend time outdoors
- Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid illness or injury, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or help to a vulnerable person
These rules are not set for you to follow your instinct or to look for loopholes. These are set for you to adhere to.
Who is this guidance for?
This guidance is for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People must remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.
People with holiday homes and caravans are still not permitted to travel to their second home or to stay overnight. Leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at another home is not allowed.
Am I allowed to drive while I am self-isolating?
Going for a drive by yourself is not considered as self-isolating.
If you choose to ignore that and drive anyway, you may invalidate your insurance and the standard of your driving will be adversely affected.
This could result in being charged for driving whilst under the influence of drugs or another charge based on the consequences of driving under these circumstances.
As for the legality of the above, I took that from Nick Freeman the motoring lawyer.
It stacks up in my mind insofar as driving while self-isolating is not permitted with Government advice being to stay at home. He said that the DVLA in effect temporarily suspend your licence and your insurance is also void, meaning that you are breaking the law by doing so. The illness itself, symptoms and self-medicating also affects your driving and puts lives at risk, so driving risks a charge of being unfit and under the influence.
I am surprised that it’s not listed on the DVLA website, although being medically fit to drive is an ongoing and continuous assessment and not a right.
Personally, I didn’t drive at all while I was self-isolating knowing that I would be batting on a sticky wicket if I had an accident and the legality of it. I just automatically thought that my driving licence was temporarily suspended under the circumstances.
What are the rules on driving if your eyesight is affected?
You must not drive if your eyesight is affected in any way. Going for a test drive to Barnard Castle or anywhere else to see if your eyesight is ok is not permitted.
This is what the DVLA says:
Driving eyesight rules
The law requires that all licensed drivers to meet the following eyesight requirements (including drivers aided by prescribed glasses or contact lenses):
- in good daylight, able to read the registration mark fixed to a vehicle registered under current standards
- at a distance of 20 metres with letters and numbers 79 mm high by 50 mm wide on a car registered since 1 September 2001 or
- at a distance of 20.5 metres with letters and numbers 79 mm high by 57 mm wide on a car registered before 1 September 2001 and
- the visual acuity must be at least Snellen 6/12 with both eyes open or in the only eye if monocular
Any driver unable to meet these standards must not drive and must notify the DVLA, which will refuse or revoke a licence.
The law also requires all drivers to have a minimum field of vision.
How do I stand on making pothole claims?
Road maintenance and pothole repairs have been suspended by many local authorities due to rules on social-distancing and Health and Safety.
Nevertheless, the local authorities still have a statutory duty and responsibility to maintain the roads to a legal and safe standard.
The rules and your legal rights on making a legitimate claim have not changed. You have a 29% chance of winning a pothole claim with Edinburgh City Council, yet I won mine within 4 weeks.
I have written about driving under lockdown with money saving tips and advice if you are caught with a parking or speeding ticket.
What are your thoughts on driving under lockdown? Have you been caught out by the rules? If so, how did it work out for you?