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Survey Finds 1 in 3 Drivers Found Covid-19 Rules Confusing

A survey conducted by Refused Car Finance reveals how drivers were impacted by lockdown.

Covid Driving Rules
at home


of Drivers Found Covid-19 Rules Confusing

What was the advice for drivers during lockdown?

With ever-changing regulations which vary by region and local lockdowns, it’s no surprise that 36.5% of UK drivers surveyed were confused as to what they can and can’t do. But what were the driving rules under lockdown? How have they changed over time and how does your location play a part?

How far can you drive during Covid-19?

On March 23rd 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the country should ‘stay at home’ and only drive if completely necessary and if you have a reasonable excuse.

Reasonable excuses included:

face covering

1. Medical Purposes

For medical reasons and to provide care for vulnerable people.

food shopping cart

2. Food

For basic necessities such as food but you should limit the frequency of your visits.

covid going to work

3. Going to work

Travelling to and from work if you cannot work from home.

It was also advised that you can participate in 1 hour’s exercise per day and the government recommended that you should ‘stay local’ for your daily walk, jog or cycle. This information was confusing for drivers as further rules stated that you could drive to visit a destination for exercise, but you should not drive for a prolonged period of time with brief exercise.


Where could you drive?

As the lockdown eased, there were no longer any restrictions on how far you could travel, people were encouraged to safely return to offices and workplaces and hotels, holidays homes and campsites reopened. 

From July 4th 2020, people were able to book a holiday or night away at many popular UK ‘staycations’ and hotels. Our survey had revealed that only 16.7% of drivers had driven to a UK staycation since the new rules had come into play.

  • Only 16.7% of drivers had driven to a UK staycation since July 4th 2020 16.7% 16.7%

Can you drive with COVID-19 symptoms or whilst self-isolating?

It is advised that whilst self-isolating, you and members of your household should remain at home. You should not go to work, school or any public areas including supermarkets. You should not leave the house to buy food or other essentials, meaning you should not drive whilst self-isolating. Instead, you should ask family or friends to shop for you or arrange online shopping and delivery. 

6.3% of our anonymous drivers surveyed said they have driven whilst they were supposed to be self-isolating and 7.9% admitted they had driven whilst experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.


of our anonymous drivers surveyed said they have driven whilst they were supposed to be self-isolating.

Can you carshare with someone outside your household or support bubble?

From our recent survey, over 1/4 of drivers said that they have shared a car with someone outside of their household or support bubble. Is this illegal, not advised or just frowned upon? 

In September 2020, many local lockdown restrictions came into play as COVID-19 cases started to rise again in areas such as North East, Greater Manchester, Leicester, North West, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. People are still being encouraged to go to work where possible but to avoid using public transport. 

New guidelines from the Department of Transport relating to car-sharing outline that if you usually share a car share with someone outside your household e.g. a colleague then you should try to find a different way to travel and minimise the risk of social contact. However, the official guidelines say you can car share with someone outside of your household as long as you take precautions to minimise the risk of infections. Some of these precautions include:

car share with family

Share the transport with the same people

convertible car

Open windows for ventilation

face away from each other

Face away from each other

clean door handles

Clean door handles and other areas that people may touch

blue face mask

Ask the driver and passengers to wear a face-covering

Should you wear a face mask or covering whilst driving?

As stated above, one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread is to wear a face mask or face covering whilst travelling with someone outside of your household. 87% of drivers in our survey said they do not wear a face mask whilst driving. 

An article published by Express.co.uk on 5th August 2020 stated that drivers could be fined £1,000 for wearing a face-covering behind the wheel. Could this be the reason why many drivers do not choose to wear a mask? If your vision is impaired by wearing a mask or by a mask fogging up your glasses, you could be putting yourself at risk of a hefty fine. Road users may be unable to react to or see road hazards which may result in an accident. This rule falls under distracted driving or driving without due care and attention.


of drivers in our survey said they do not wear a face mask whilst driving.

car at home

Can you drive to get a new pet during COVID-19?


As the months go on, the restrictions on how far you can drive and the reason for your journey has increased and become more flexible. As mentioned, at the start of lockdown, travelling was only for essential reasons only. With more people being stuck at home, having more time on their hands and turning to pets for comfort, new research from The Kennel Club revealed that puppy sales have boomed under the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Registrations of new puppies jumped by 26 per cent between the start of April and the end of June – while a fifth of new owners admit they don’t know whether their dog will suit their lifestyle as lockdown eases.

However, out of our 126 drivers surveyed, 92% had said they had not driven to pick up a new pet during COVID-19. The Kennel Club had urged people to not ‘impulse buy’ any new pets during the pandemic as it may lead to pets that cannot be looked after once life resumes to ‘normal’ and may increase the number of pets in shelters in the long run.


had driven to pick up a new pet during COVID-19.

Should you buy a car during COVID-19?

Our recent consumer survey showed that over 80% of drivers had not bought, leased or financed a new/used car throughout COVID-19. Another article by AM-Online reports “Consumer research released from CarGuide has revealed that COVID-19 has stopped almost a third of UK drivers (32%) from changing their car in 2020.” 

With many people still working from home where possible and local lockdown encouraging drivers to stay at home more, there are a number of households across the UK whose cars are spending more time on the driveway than on the road.


of drivers had not bought, leased or financed a new/used car throughout COVID-19.

What are the rules for lockdown 2.0?

From 5th November 2020, the UK went into a second national lockdown. During this lockdown, people were encouraged to stay at home again, but rules were not as strict and easier to understand.

Driving regulations which are allowed include:

  • Travel for childcare or education
  • Travelling to work if you cannot work from home
  • Travel for exercise or visiting an outdoor place e.g. beach, park etc.
  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food or medicine
  • Visiting members of your support bubble or caring for vulnerable people
  • You are encouraged to not travel with anyone who doesn’t live in your household
  • Driving lessons and tests have been put on hold
  • MOT and servicing can go ahead and there will be no extension