Has the UK forgotten how to drive after lockdown(s)?

I saw 3 accidents, and 1 driver pulled over for driving with no lights (in the dark) all on a short journey back from a launch. Has the UK forgotten how to drive?

Are the roads more dangerous after lockdown?

Are the UK roads more dangerous now, more than ever before? After a couple of lockdowns and a period of scarce driving, have people forgotten how to drive? Maybe it's time for a bit of road safety.

In a purely anecdotal case, I was returning from a recent launch in Europe (the NT1100 if you were wondering), heading back from Heathrow to the East of England - meaning my quickest route included a hefty stint in rush hour traffic on the M25, taking the M11 north and then the A11 towards Thetford. 

In that 2 and a half hour expedition home, I witnessed 3 accidents (one of which involved the car in front), and on the final 15 minutes I caught up to a driver plodding along a countryside B road with no lights on - it was around 9 pm and pitch black, their route ignited purely by the DRLs upfront. 

Accidents aplenty

The first incident was a two-car smash under a bridge on the M25 - I can only imagine they were distracted by the graffiti - and the tail-back of traffic was a good few miles. (Un)surprisingly, the smart motorway sign didn’t instruct people to get out of that lane, rather, slow to 40 mph.

I won't comment on the capabilities of 'smart' motorways.

The second and third I’d simply put down to lack of attention, with drivers running into the back of the car in front. Standard stuff that we’ve all seen before, I’m sure.

Last to draw attention to themselves as the ‘incognito driver’ without lights, who passed a police car pulled up on the side of the road. The PC swiftly caught up with us with blue lights blaring, and no doubt had a stern chat with the unwitting driver by the side of the road.

This is compounded by the countless times I’ve been witness to some questionable driving recently, and speaking with other road users it seems to be a common affair - and not just on Sundays.

It truly seems like a vast number of the UK has simply forgotten how to drive.

The roads are more dangerous now. Is there any official consensus?

I spoke to our mate Tom at UpRight Derby for their take, and he came back to say:

“It would appear that drivers/riders have become complacent or simply out of practice with so many people working from home. With more people becoming reliant on tech I think that this has led to people being more distracted in cars and on bikes.

There is no data as of yet that we could publish. But on a personal level, I’m in agreement, there does appear to be more [accidents]. Though initial stats suggest that, if anything, its less with bikers.”


What can we do about road safety?

Realistically, there’s nothing we can do about dodgy drivers on the roads, other than keep our riding sharpened and roadcraft skills in tip-top shape. In order to maintain your defensive driving acumen, perhaps consider a refresher course or advanced riding day with your local riders group. 

Whether it's now or in the future, at the very least it’s an excuse for a ride out, and you may learn a thing or two in the process.

Plus as we head into the depths of winter, it wouldn’t surprise me if drivers have entirely forgotten that snow and ice exist at all - and how this affects the wheels on their motor. So with the recent appearance of snow in the UK, take extra care out there!

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