/ Motoring

Have you been driving during the lockdown?

The official rules around driving during the coronavirus lockdown are shifting slightly in England. What are your motoring concerns and experiences so far?

If cars could speak, I suspect mine would tell me it’s enjoying lockdown even less than I am. Bar the odd, high octane excitement of a two-mile round trip to the supermarket, it’s been sitting idly on the driveway, gathering pollen, for weeks now.

Read all the latest COVID-19 news and advice on our dedicated hub

Even putting aside concerns about the potential risk to battery and brakes – if you share these worries, take a look at our advice on maintaining your car during lockdown – cars are just meant to be driven, aren’t they?

My attempts to explain to my car that the rules mean we can’t just go for a drive have fallen on deaf wing mirrors, even when I’ve pointed out that breaking down or, worse, an accident, carries more risk during the coronavirus outbreak.

A relaxation of the rules?

So my car, at least, is probably feeling hopeful now that the rules on driving for exercise or to spend time outdoors in England are being relaxed a little.

But you do still need a reasonable excuse to leave the house, including to drive.

But while official police guidance previously only permitted driving for exercise if the drive took less time than the exercise itself, as of yesterday those who live in England can travel as far as they like for exercise or outdoor activity.

Cars that live in Scotland and Wales will have to wait longer for relaxation of the rules – here the rules remain that exercise should take place close to home.

Anyone in England tempted to visit outdoor places across the borders may find short shrift from Scottish and Welsh police.

Are the rules being enforced?

I’ve warned my overexcited car that even though the rules have been relaxed, a common sense approach is probably the way forward.

I’ll still be looking after it from a maintenance point of view, and I admit it would be nice to stretch my legs somewhere beyond a 5km radius of my house, but I won’t be taking loads of long drives just for the sake of it.

Coronavirus: how to protect yourself and others

Meanwhile the different rules in different countries have potential to lead to confusion over what is and isn’t allowed. Some Which? members have told us that some regional police forces have been taking a stricter approach on driving for exercise than is required by the official rules where they live.

Are you as clear as crystal, or as clear as mud, on what the rules mean for you? What has been your experience of how police are interpreting the rules where you live?

Let us know your thoughts.  


My “children” have been working very successfully from their homes and have hardly had to use their cars. One has been supplying me with food, their longest trip once a week. My car has been out with purpose twice; once to collect a prescription and once to get petrol for the lawn mower. This has played its very small part in the huge benefit to the quality of the air we must breathe. Time, perhaps, to consider how we can help maintain this benefit when life returns to some semblance of normality rather than just taking the car out and adding to pollution.

While we have much more time at home it is easy to look in your car handbook and do those checks you should be doing as a matter of course. Check fluid levels – easy, and you should keep oil at home – and tyre pressures (everyone should have a pump). A short trip around the block will clean your brake discs and help the battery (do you have a charger just in case? Surely a sensible bit of equipment). And if it is safe, leave your handbrake off if it is manual.

We need to try to use cars less in the future. We’ve just had a dry run. Have we learned anything?

Starting off on a controversial note, I don’t think anyone – unless they have a really good justification – should be driving anywhere outside their own county [or the neighbouring one if they are within a mile or two of the border].

I feel that those of us who can stay at home conveniently should do so as a matter of civic duty. Going to beauty spots and country parks is not necessary for the purposes of exercise. People should also realise that most shops and facilities are closed in rural areas so there is very little to do other than wander around upsetting the people who live there all year round. The local residents are often elderly and vulnerable and are very worried about transmission of the virus. Out of consideration and respect for those people I would hope that town dwellers will not invade country areas ‘because they can’ and to take advantage of the quieter traffic conditions. There is no tourism or economic benefit to be gained by extraneous people visiting other areas at the moment so that is not a satisfactory explanation for driving to another part of the country.

If people do insist on driving some distance from their home they should be fully prepared and have enough fuel in the tank for the entire return journey. They should think very carefully about the implications of having to call upon roadside assistance or the emergency services.

In my view, lifting restrictions too early is as bad as not introducing them early enough, but that is what the government has done and it is in the nature of things that many will take it as an instruction to go on a journey. Being cooped up at home might be uncomfortable but it is better than having to spend time in hospital.

Some Car insurers have recognised that the risks associated with driving are much reduced and are therefore offering rebates to their policy holders. Whilst others already state in their terms and conditions that if you have reduced your mileage then you can apply for a refund. Have a look at our Which? content to see what you need to do as regards your insurer. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/05/car-insurance-during-lockdown-can-you-get-a-refund-payment-holiday-or-cheaper-premium/

Thanks for this Mike, will have a look over the weekend.

Apart from collecting supermarket ‘click & collect’ orders and once to a small shop that is operating in the open air I had not been out. Yesterday evening I drove two miles to inspect property belonging to a society during my walk. All was well.

For as long as I can remember I have checked over my car at the weekend and have continued to do so, but as well as checking tyre pressures my routine now includes removing cobwebs. 🕸️ I have been leaving the handbrake off to prevent the brakes sticking and checking the state of the battery. In the past week I have spoken to one person who has had the brakes lock on and another who was unable to start his car, so bought a new battery online.

In a way it’s good to see some cars on the road because it seems to have put an end to the minority treating deserted roads as a place to find out the top speed of their vehicle.

My next trip out could be to get oil and other parts so that I can service my car.

Phil says:
14 May 2020

I’m a key worker so I’ve been driving as normal and quite frankly loving it! My commute isn’t long but doing it on what for the most part have been empty roads has been quite a change. I have noticed the reduction in noise and air pollution though, birdsong was a lot more noticeable, but I’ve not encountered any boy (or girl) racers, if anything the little traffic I have met has been better behaved, no speeding, no tailgating. Perhaps key workers don’t feel we’ve anything to prove.

I am the same as Phil, a key worker with a short commute and loving the quiet roads. Even in rush hour times it has been great to be able to drive to work without tailgating idiots who have no patience. Sadly this is slowly changing but this crisis has shown us that life is too short to worry about time and schedules.

Professional drivers of PCV vehicles are having their licenses extended for a year without sending in a Medical form, signed after examination by a doctor, and DVLA is adamant that it will, not be accepting anything by post.

A community minded volunteer driver using a minibus reaching the age of 70 has to get a form signed by a doctor (!) and post it in, otherwise they lose the required group form their license.

I have sent in web-based contacts to both Grant Schapps and DVLA and have no response after weeks.

Why can’t they do the same?

Henry says:
15 May 2020

Starting sentences (which are presented as paragraphs) with “But” is not great.
It is the issue, not people, that may be “crystal clear”, “clear as day”, or “clear as mud”. Come on, Editor!

I am “shielded” so cannot go out. I note from my diary that my MoT test is due soon. I cannot take my car to it. Nobody else can drive my car. It is not “essential” (though in whose eyes I am not sure, certainly mime). It lives on the road (no chocie). This state of affairs is likely to stay until “the vaccine” arrives.

Q1: Can I “swear myself off-road”?
Q2: Where can I get an official statement I do not need to MoT my car during this state?

Once this state changes, I can drive to an MoT test without an MoT (it’s allowed).


Here is official information about the six month extension: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020

Garages have insurance cover to drive cars, so if you would prefer to have an MOT you might be able to get the car collected and returned after the test.

I have a note in my diary to book an MOT because mine is due in June. If my usual garage is open I will get the MOT done at the usual time.

If your MOT date is after 31st of March the validity has been extended for 6 months. As long as it safe.

To Bill and wavechange:
Assuming your MOT runs/ran out after 29th March, then:
* you must keep your vehicle safe to drive.
* Your vehicle will be (or has been) automatically given a 6-month MOT exemption. This extends your current MOT expiry date by 6 months.
* You can check your MOT history to see whether you have by now been issued an exemption. It might not be updated straight away, so keep checking back if your new due date MOT is not yet showing. You’ll have to enter the registration number, and confirm make/colour/etc. The link for full MOT history is
https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history or https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/
or, to show the current tax and MOT status plus some additional info, you can use
* You will NOT get a paper exemption certificate.
* If your vehicle tax is due, you can tax your vehicle as soon as your MOT due date has been updated.
(My wife’s car showed as 11-Apr-2020 until about 9th April, and was then updated to 11-Oct-2020; my own car still shows as 28-Sep-2020.)
You can check your car’s tax and MOT status (and a few other things) at

If the due date has arrived/passed without your car having been updated, make contact as shown on either of those pages to “prod” them!

So, Bill, (Q2) although you can’t “get an official statement” on the matter, anybody can confirm the (hopefully revised) status at the two sites which I indicated.

Bill, (Q1) If you WANT to keep it off-road (and get your car tax refunded), you’ll need
your vehicle log “book” (V5C) handy when you go to
I’ve never done this, but it looks fairly straightforward.
Might be worth having a good look at that page before you make the decision?

Thanks Ron. It’s not much fun for those who keep their car on the road since they cannot apply for a SORN and must also keep their car taxed even if they are not using it.

Fiona says:
15 May 2020

My daughter wants to drive home from Switzerland in June. Will she be able to do so?

No, if she is coming to the UK, her car will sink when she hits the sea. Plus the UK government are planning to close the UK borders. If they do this by June, she may have to do 14 days quarantine when she gets here.

Christopher Read says:
15 May 2020

Why? Le Shuttle is running.

PaulS says:
15 May 2020

Very concerned about the new rule – drive as far as you want to exercise. Travelling a greater distance than previously will probably be a benefit, but there should be a reasonable limit. It seems very intimidating for the likes of the North West – with Scotland and Wales effectively still closed everyone will be heading for the Lake District. Cumbria still has the highest infection rate in England so this is not a good plan for the locals, visitors or the country as a whole. Will this be the source of a second peak?

Probably, Paul . . . unless Derbyshire suffers badly as well.

It is worrying that people are almost being encouraged to travel long distances for exercise. There really is no need for that at all. People in coastal communities, inland beauty spots, and other places of interest, are understandably annoyed by this premature relaxation of the rules. Inevitably the visitors will want to use local shops and services which are not equipped to handle crowds under the present conditions. Just being in locked-down communities is regarded as threatening by the residents.

The government is desperate to restore signs of normality, but what would normally be normal has become abnormal and potentially unsafe for many people.

I suppose the caravans and camper vans will be going on their annual exodus to their favoured spots any day now creating further difficulties and extra traffic.

I am very concerned that more lives could be lost as a result of the recent relaxation of the lockdown measures which were working well despite a minority ignoring them. For the time being I will operate under the previous rules.

I agree with you PaulS and think the lockdown rules are being relaxed too much, too soon.

There seems to be a mindset in this country that if people are not specifically told what they can or can’t do, they abandon all common sense and places like the Lake District and coastal beaches will become inundated with travellers from afar putting the locals at risk along with everyone else lacking in common sense.

By word of mouth, I have come across several instances of people claiming they have had the virus but have had no tests to prove it with one person telling me they had it last November in the UK.

These people claiming they have had it also claim they are safe to be around as they can no longer be contagious.

I hope I am wrong, but I envisage another surge of cases and a return of lockdown rules.

We will be staying in lockdown for some time yet.

Why are horse racing and soccer often featured in pleas for relaxing the rules? I would have thought there are far more important contenders.

I did enjoy watching the series on the best snooker matches played over the last decades. I see they are running a series on old football matches as well (not my favourite industry but it should appeal to many).

Em says:
15 May 2020

Oddly enough, people cannot bet on the outcome of old snooker and football matches, so the bookmakers will continue to plea for relaxation of their essential services.

The only time I go to a bookmaker is to have books bound or repaired. With only one bookbinder left in town, you bet it’s expensive.

Tony says:
15 May 2020

The article is unhelpful if you live in Wales. Why didn’t the link in the email say “England only?”

Walter says:
15 May 2020

Hi Tony – It does say England at the top of the article and while does not cover Wales and Scotland I did enjoy reading the article written from the viewpoint of the car. A bit of humour is appreciated thank you Ceri.

Since the start of March I’ve only driven my car around the village just to turn over the engine but other than that I have it parked outside the house.

Fiona30 says:
15 May 2020

In the tone of the article:
Unfortunately the day before lockdown was announced my car had issues with social distancing rules when parking and got a little too close to another one! (I was not the driver…)
It has since been punished by only having limited excursions (I still have to travel to work some days) and having to watch me using its larger rival from time to time (to keep its battery charged). It finds our drive very boring, but quite loud at 8pm every Thursday.
However the poor car we hit still carries its scar (as does mine) because it was not considered essential work to get it fixed. (We have paid compensation.)
My car now loves the fact that social distancing on the roads is easy but is very conscious that safety is difficult at petrol stations, and finds irony in the current low petrol prices ….

If you have a Land Rover Discover Sport, it needs to go out for a good run every week to stop the heater fan from seizing up. If the police don’t believe you, ask them to contact the AA – it’s a known fault.

“The rules are as clear as my windscreen, Constable.”

I think we need to careful to distinguish between police and government advice and what is actually law. I can find nothing in “The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020” that forbid me from driving anywhere to take exercise. As far as I can tell, every statement about duration of driving, not travelling to beauty spots, etc., is simply verbal guidance and not the law. That’s my opinion anyway, I may be wrong. Everyone else can make their own mind up by checking the legislation at http://www.legislation.gov.uk. We need to bear in mind (as Peter Hitchens said) that when we are forced to comply with governmental statements rather than actual written law, that we may be living in a police state.

glenys ball says:
15 May 2020

Will DVLA be sending out license renewal reminders/forms to over 70s?

There seems to be an adequate reason not to unlock the lockdown for the time being. See –

The infection rate is creeping up and there are misleading reports of very low infection rates in London.

It is difficult to know who and what to believe. There is still a lack of data, alternative models in use are imprecise, so I suggest we need caution when viewing media reports.

Care homes contain the most susceptible people but should be relatively closed communities so should not raise the general r number. Distressing though it may seem, as more of the vulnerable people succumb to the virus it may well be that those others may well survive an infection.

However, just what effect relaxing, gradually, isolation rules will produce can only be monitored and action taken if necessary. But we cannot simply isolate ourselves for an indeterminate time for a number of reasons, including health and financial. Waiting for a vaccine is not an option.

However, like Donald, “I am not a medical doctor” but then I wonder how medically and statistically qualified are the BBC and other media and just how diligent they are, or can be, in investigating and fully appreciating all relevant information.

It’s taking a long time to determine accurate facts about this disease. Part of this may be down to our current knowledge about human immunocompetence in general.

We know, for example, that the disease itself is not killing people; rather, it’s our own immune response to it which is doing the damage. I appreciate to some that might seem like splitting hairs, but it’s incredibly relevant to determining survivability.

We haven’t investigated Corona viruses to the extent we should. We investigate Cancer and Heart disease extensively, but not Corona viruses. Partly, that’s because they’re so widespread; the average adult can expect to be infected by a Coronavirus around three times a year. An average schoolteacher, around five or six. It would be interesting to examine mortality and disease severity rates among occupational groups, to see if repeated infections by Coronaviruses can help build up immunity.

But as the thing progresses we’re discovering some interesting things. We started out thinking it would only affect over-70s and those with underlying health conditions, but it’s now looking as though we got that wrong.

There have now been many reports of the disease killing young, otherwise healthy individuals, and adversely and disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities, the obese and men. We assumed asthmatics would be at greater risk, but so far, they don’t seem to be in greater danger.

Estimates suggest anywhere from half to more than three-quarters of infected people show no symptoms, but until testing is more widespread, this remains a difficult question to answer meaningfully. Children seem just as likely as adults to be infected by the new coronavirus, yet far less likely to experience severe or deadly disease.

Some recent evidence suggests people with O type Blood seemed to be somewhat protected from serious disease after infection with the coronavirus
So a great deal is still unknown,

Some statistics are given here – https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsinvolvingcovid19englandandwales/deathsoccurringinapril2020#analysis-of-deaths-involving-covid-19-data

Over 90% of elderly deaths had one or more significant pre-existing health problems.

I don’t think it was ever said that young(er) people would not be affected by COVID-19. However, the published data does show they are little affected. While 11% of total deaths that had COVID-19 as a factor were in the under 65s, the vast majority of these were in the 55-65 age group.

I am quoting the world wide stats, rather than those simply from the UK. The information is sourced from New Scientist, Nature and Scientific American. Given the UK government forgot to include 8000 more deaths than usual in care homes recently, I prefer a wider range of information.

The UK ONS stats seem to show age-related deaths quite clearly, particularly where the young are concerned.

I have not studied the therapies in use to treat patients with Covid-19. As Ian says the over-reaction of our immune system is key and perhaps controlling this could be key to saving lives. Autoimmune disease is an example of the need to prevent what is effectively self-harm.

Recently it was suggested that the number of people who had been infected was much higher than stated by the well publicised figures.

I feel that a fair measure of the impact of the disease will be the excess of deaths over the Covid-19 period beyond the average for the same period over the previous ten years [say] and possibly also in percentage terms by adjustment for population variances. This primary statistic will not be available for some time and would be just numerical, not classified as to cause of death which in many cases might have had an alternative explanation or been mis-recorded due to a lack of clear evidence.

Referring back to my previous comment, the latest rise in the infection rate is indeed likely to reflect the numbers of Covid-19 deaths in care homes [where, as Malcolm says, susceptibility is greatest] which might not be representative of the wider community. Nevertheless, I still think the easing of the lockdown has been premature. The margin for error has narrowed significantly with the R number now on the edge of accelerating the infection rate beyond 1.0. I feel there should be a more robust and sustained decline in the overall infection rate, and the number of deaths, before restrictions are removed and people are given freedom to roam. These views apply to England; the other three countries in the UK are managing things better in my opinion.

I am concerned that there could be a second wave that knocks us backwards and, from listening to people I know, that is what is terrifying the elderly and vulnerable people who have, through hardship, sacrifice and inconvenience [and in some cases personal grief] survived so far but fear such a development. Whereas I agree we cannot remain in lockdown indefinitely, and that so far as possible people with work should return to it, the people who have no good reason to be out and about should be required to remain at home and not increase the risks for the most vulnerable.

The actual number of deaths each day is interesting but not very informative. It could be going down because the number of infections has reduced or because expertise, resources and treatment have improved. I consider it would be more useful to know the death rate per numbers infected but without adequate testing that percentage and its track are not available.

Perhaps we should continue this discussion in The Lobby rather than driving to distraction those who would like to debate the topic on the card.

When I made the first comment in this thread it seemed relevant but, as is usual at this time of year, the discussion just snowballed.

Perhaps there ought to be a way in which we can open a sub-folder in a Conversation to take related comments that do not necessarily adhere to the original title – chosen (obviously) before the breadth and scope of the topic had evolved.

As far as I know, this facility is not available in the software. Our regulars seem to be endowed with the collective ability of taking discussions off-topic but it would be good to take discussions to a relevant Conversation or to The Lobby when one of us recognises we are off-topic.

It frequently happens when a related issue is introduced and then becomes the focus of comments. This diversion may well have run its course.

Tomorrow morning I’m driving about 6 miles (around 10km) to meet up with my youngest son whom I haven’t seen in the flesh for 2 months. We’ll take a socially-distanced walk. Better than Facetime and WhatsApp video. Looking forward to it.

Often the main topic seems to have run its course and a little digression gives it a bit more life.

If people start from page 1, there are plenty of comments on which replies or further comments can be hung.

It has been noted that Malcolm is driving for distraction.

My distracting walk yesterday covered about 4 miles through woodland, chatting to my son who kept at a safe distance. We met quite a few people walking and on bikes, some with dogs, some with children. Everyone diverted where necessary to avoid getting too close, including the children.

There seems to be a real appreciation of precautions and a lot of common sense – at least, where I walk. However my son tells me that in the outskirts of the town where they walk their dogs, groups of youths have been gathering and playing football in the park throughout lockdown. I wonder how much such antisocial behaviour contributes to the sustaining of r, something lockdown rules are unable to combat if they are ignored.

I suspect there may be fears that prevent penalising these offenders.

I suspect like just about everyone else I’ve neglect motor transport for the pedal or the leg. No public transportation of any type. I have though used it sparingly to do a weekly shop and less often still to venture out to an isolated spot to exercise. And no I’ve not missed it and i doubt that the vehicle has missed me.

J.C. Lilburn . says:
15 May 2020

What’s this 5km lark , Ceri ? We measure distance in the UK in imperial measurements . 5km means nothing to most of us . If you check your speedometer and milometer ( clue in the term ! ) they use imperial units of measurement . Legally in the UK all road signs must use miles /yards as the unit of distance .
But , more importantly , there is a very large cohort of people in the UK who were never taught metric units of measurement and by saying 5km they are both disenfranchised and confused . I never thought that ‘Which’ would ignore what must be their largest demographic group of membership , those over 50 .
So , Ceri , if you must refer to metric terminology , please also list the imperial measurement alongside .
Thank you .

I think that being able to use two sets of units is an advantage, something those educated pre metrication possess. I think in both and use either depending upon the application. I prefer, I confess, miles per gallon to litres per 100 km, and to think of journeys in miles – perhaps because I was told at an early age that Carterknowle Road, near where we lived and where I went to infant and junior school, was a mile long. I’ve never checked.

Business, formal education, manufacturing et all is metric but we should not be criticised for using whatever measuring system we choose in our private lives.

I still think there’s a role for good old British avoir dupois, depending on the context and the audience. We have accepted social distancing in metric units. Anti-social distancing can be described in feet and inches for dramatic effect.

Wouldn’t horse racing be dull without the final furlong? And how would Peter Piper pick his peck of pickled peppers, and where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked going to go, if he can’t put them in a peck-sized basket. I have seen apples sold by the bushel [four pecks] on Norwich market – but then some of the stalls have been there for over 900 years and things change slowly around here.

Anyone who drives in foreign countries will probably need to handle distances and speeds in km. I believe it is a UK legal requirement for our car speedometers to display speeds in mph and/or kph, so we are not caught out when driving in Europe.

Recalibrating our highways in metric units would be a massive and unproductive operation that we just could not afford, and it would take ages as well.

Recalibrating vehicles would be easier but speed doesn’t make much sense as a value if it isn’t related to distance.

Perhaps a forty year programme, county by county, would be manageable

We have a land border on the island of Ireland where there is a well-signposted transition from mph to kph for speed limits and there are similar signs [as well as ‘drive on the right’ signs] on the continent at ferry ports and the Eurotunnel exit [and ‘drive on the left’ signs on the English side for incoming drivers].

Phil says:
19 May 2020

” Perhaps a forty year programme, county by county. ”

Yes, they could switch us to driving on the right in the same way…

Cars with electronic speedos, which seem to be common these days, would just need switching over in the computer.

Phil – I should be surprised if changing over from driving on the left to driving on the right one county at a time would be popular or practical. Let’s say that Oxfordhsire, Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire were the first to convert over a three year period, wouldn’t it be chaotic at the entrances and exits and require expensive flyovers and interchanges to get the traffic on the proper side? And surely motorways cannot have frequent changes of driving side as vehicles enter and exit each county they pass through. Personally, I can’t see the advantage to UK drivers of changing from the left to the right. Many commercial and public service vehicles have a thirty year design life so there would be massive obsolescence.

Phil says:
20 May 2020

It was a joke John. it would of course be utterly ridiculous.

There is no advantage to switching you’re correct. It would be ruinously expensive, render most of the nation’s vehicle stock worthless overnight and send the accident rate through the roof until we all got used to it.

Thanks, Phil. I didn’t think you were were being serious, but I wasn’t sure. It was supported by a number of contributors to earlier Conversations where this notion has emerged.

The interesting thing is that all our motorways have been designed from the outset for conversion to right-hand drive with the gradients and radii of entry and exit ramps made compatible and space made for direction signage on the opposite carriageway.

Why should we change? We should get the rest of the world to drive on the left.

Alternatively, compromise by driving down the middle of the road. Or, simply, make all roads one way.

There are not too many other countries nearby that drive on the left, as this map shows: https://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/list-of-left-driving-countries/

Producing both RHD and LHD cars is expensive and is one of the reasons cars are expensive in the UK. Some models are not available in RHD. I don’t know what the future will bring.

When I was still a child, Sweden switched to driving on the right, demonstrating that it can be done.

If the future is self-driving cars there will be no need for steering wheels on the left or right.

As an island nation this causes us few problems. We have many more pressing matters than worrying about this, of course. All part of life’s diversity. However, maybe Scotland will add this to their political aims to manufacture further divergence from the Union?

Perhaps aiming to get a world-wide common language would be more fruitful. 🙂

Sweden changed over the course of a weekend. On Sunday, September 3, 1967, Sweden changed from driving on the left-hand side of the road to driving on the right. As you might imagine, this switch was anything but easy.

When driving in the USA or in Europe, I’ve always found that the presence of other traffic helps remind me to drive on the “other” side of the road. Late at night, with no other traffic around, I have sometimes found myself reverting to the proper British side of the road.

Whenever we’re in the US or Europe we try to use well-frequented routes, precisely because of that. The first time we went to the US it was the sheer size of their intersections that took me by surprise.

Phil says:
20 May 2020

I’ve heard the ‘motorways were built for easy conversion’ story before but I’m not convinced. A lot of junctions are limited access, you can exit travelling in one direction but not enter, for a start.

I think about 25% of the world drives on the left, Sweden’s conversion in 1967 was helped by there being far fewer cars and a large proportion already being left hand drive. The drivers were also used to driving on the right as it was common for Swedes to go shopping in Norway where prices were lower.

One of my elderly brothers always used to drive down the middle of the road, as did my late father. Neither seemed to know why when questioned, so I did some research and it apparently relates to a natural slowing down of the brains cognitive processes as we age affecting our driving manoeuvre ability, rendering us to become more cautious when driving, which explains why some will hog the middle lane on the motorway and are less likely to risk switching in and out of lanes, preferring to stay ‘safe’ in the middle of the road, much to the chagrin and annoyance of other younger drivers. Personally I make a point of keeping away from motorways now but always try to keep centred in the left lane when driving locally.

Left lane driving relates to countries once colonised by the English, with perhaps the exception of the American Continent. With a larger majority of right handed citizens it made more sense to keep the enemy on horseback on their right side by holding the reins in the left hand and the sword in the dominant right.

In America the coach driver would prefer to sit on a horse on the left, freeing up his right hand to whip the other horses, providing him with a better view on his left if travelling on the right side of the road. It was Henry Ford who produced the first left handed steering wheel car, ensuring the continuation American independence.