Are Drivers’ Skills Rusty Post-Pandemic?


Many states went into total lockdowns during the 2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, while many others had at least some regions that had localized lockdowns. The lockdowns greatly reduced the need to drive because most people had nowhere to go. With COVID-19 lockdowns easing up and roadways filling up with vehicles again, car accidents are also on the rise.

During the pandemic, many adults either worked remotely from home or filed for unemployment and did not work at all. Moreover, a lot of businesses had to close their doors at least temporarily, for months in many cases, which left many people with no particular place to go.

When someone has nowhere to go, their car stays parked most of the time and driver skills slowly erode. During this period of dormancy drivers do not forget how to drive, but bad habits can creep into otherwise safe daily driving practices. When bad driving habits become the norm, an increase in car accidents is a natural result.

Bad Driving Habits Got Worse

When people are asked to shelter in place and have nowhere to go, the roads stay mostly empty. Less congested roadways reduce a driver’s sense of danger and make it much easier to ignore posted traffic controls and generally drive in a distracted or otherwise inattentive manner. That means bad driving habits are setting in and making many drivers generally worse.

A recent Hyundai Motor Company survey of approximately 2,000 drivers in the United Kingdom reported that participating motorists said they drove an average of 90 miles during a 28-day period during the pandemic. About 30 percent said they drove 25 miles or even less during the same timeframe. That adds up to a whole lot of non-travel that enables bad driving habits and rusty driving skills to take hold of otherwise competent and safe motorists.

The mistakes motorists report making more often now that pandemic lockdowns are easing include the following:

  • Stalling vehicles reported by 28 percent of drivers.
  • Scraping wheels on curbing reported by 21 percent of motorists.
  • Failure to signal turns or lane changes reported by 20 percent of drivers.
  • Twelve percent said they forgot which side their vehicle accepts fuel at the pump.

Although a motorist’s confusion over where the gas cap is located on a car will not cause an accident, it does indicate how quickly people can forget the simplest of things, including roadway safety.

Many Motorists are Concerned About a Rise in Bad Driving

A significant amount of drivers surveyed by Hyundai in the United Kingdom said they are concerned about an apparent rise in bad driving among peers. Nearly half of those surveyed said they are worried the lockdown has caused a decline in the general level of safety among drivers. About 44 percent said other drivers are traveling at higher rates of speed because of the pandemic, and 10 percent said people are driving more slowly.

Even slow-speed maneuvers seem to have become more dangerous. Many drivers said they are having trouble with parallel parking, which could lead to a rise in fender-bender accidents. More frightening, many motorists said they do not check their mirrors when accelerating from a stop or pulling away from a sharp turn. That means many drivers are less aware of their surroundings and more prone to accidents.

The apparent rise in carelessness while behind the wheel seems to extend to personal safety. Many motorists are reporting a sudden lack of seat belt use post-pandemic. Although drivers wore seat belts prior to lockdowns, the lack of driving during the pandemic has led many motorists to forget to buckle up. With a significant rise in poor driving habits likely to occur among normally safe drivers, skipping seat belt use becomes even more dangerous.

Rust Never Sleeps

The old adage of rust never sleeping is especially true when people significantly reduce their regular amount of driving. Occupational therapists say when people stray from doing something on a daily basis to only on occasion, a reduction in practical skills is a natural result. If someone drove to and from work five days a week and ran errands on weekends but suddenly stopped these trips for several months, their driving skills are certain to erode for most and possibly all affected drivers.

Many people who had no place to drive also led relatively sedentary existences during the pandemic that is easing in much of the world. That means many drivers have reduced motor skills but might not realize it. Their bodies might not be up to long drives and a resumption of long days at work with their jobs up and running again. A combination of reduced activity and eroded driving skills from a lack of recent practice adds up to a strong potential for increased vehicular accidents.

Poorly Maintained Vehicles

Another problem affecting many drivers is a disruption in normal maintenance routines for their vehicles. Brakes, tires and wheels, suspension and steering, and other mechanical systems on many vehicles were incapable of receiving regular maintenance to keep them in optimal running condition. A vehicle with brakes that have not been checked for more than a year may take more distance to stop and more effort than a vehicle with recently maintained brakes.

When it comes to engine performance, more than a year of skipped maintenance and tune-ups add up to relatively poor engine performance. Sluggish motors and slower acceleration make it harder to maintain safe driving speeds and obtain optimal fuel economy while getting back into the driving habit with a resumption of regular daily travels to work and other places.

Kensington Car Accident Lawyers at Wiggins Law Assist Victims in Recovering from Their Accident

Motorists clearly are concerned about car accidents being more likely because of rusty driving skills. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident due to another person’s negligence, contact the Kensington car accident lawyers at Wiggins Law. We will review your situation and help you to present the best possible case. You can schedule a free consultation by calling Wiggins Law at 267-225-0770 or by contacting us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, and we proudly serve clients in Northeast Philadelphia, including Kensington, Tacony, Torresdale, Mayfair, Port Richmond, Allegheny, and Olney.