Sharp increase in road accidents predicted from next week as lockdown eases

Sharp increase in road accidents predicted from next week as lockdown eases

Posted 08 April, 2021 at 09:30

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of Pronounce Concierge Service

  • Car accident claims to NFU Mutual increased sharply following last year's easing of restrictions, prompting the insurer to urge drivers to take caution
  • 1 in 4 drivers admit they are feeling nervous about making long car journeys when restrictions lift
  • The most nervous driving groups are the same groups taking to the UK’s roads to holiday this year in highest numbers, with 12 million UK driving holidays already planned or booked
  • To help prevent vehicle accidents, NFU Mutual is providing 1,000 free ‘driving confidence’ sessions to its car and van insurance customers

Based on claims trends following previous UK lockdowns, insurer NFU Mutual is expecting a sharp increase in accidents from next week. This is when self-contained holiday accommodation lets, non-essential retail, personal care, outdoor hospitality and indoor leisure venues are scheduled to open to the public on April 12th.

Claims to NFU Mutual for car accidents increased sharply by 22% over the late May Bank Holiday last year, shortly after lockdown was eased on May 11. Car accident claims also increased by 12% over the Christmas period compared with previous weeks, prompting the insurer to advise caution on the roads.

The prediction comes alongside 1 in 4 drivers admitting they are feeling nervous about making long journeys once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Of 2,000 drivers surveyed by NFU Mutual in March, 37% said they are planning to drive somewhere to go on holiday in the UK once lockdown restrictions allow it, equating to more than 12 million drivers taking to the roads.

The most nervous driving groups are also those taking to the UK’s roads to holiday in the highest numbers. Post-lockdown nervousness is most pronounced amongst younger or less experienced drivers and out-of-practice Londoners, and the majority have either already booked their holidays or are planning to.

Nearly two thirds of drivers aged 18-34 (63%) and more than half of Londoners who drive (53%) will be taking to the roads for a UK getaway this year.

NFU Mutual motor insurance specialist, Jade Devlin, said: “While uncertainty remains on whether European holidays are on the cards, our research shows that millions will be taking to the UK's roads for holidays from next week when lockdown eases. Where easing has happened in 2020 we’ve received sharp surges in reported car accidents with roads getting busier very quickly and drivers taking their first long distance drives for a while. We’re sadly expecting the same from 12th April when many venues and holiday lets start opening up, so would urge drivers to take care on the roads.”

A previous study by NFU Mutual during November 2020 also found that an astounding 42% of UK drivers have suffered a collision and 36% have had a near miss. Of these, over half (55%) said it has affected their confidence.

In response to the findings, NFU Mutual is providing 1,000 car and light goods vehicle insurance customers with free two-hour personalised driving confidence sessions worth £150 each. The sessions are delivered by advanced driving instructors from Drive Doctors and are tailored to the specific needs of the driver.

NFU Mutual has been successfully providing driving confidence sessions as part of its Young Drivers’ Scheme for seven years, helping over 3,000 young drivers. If the sessions are in demand from other driver groups, NFU Mutual will consider providing them to all car and van customer groups as an optional add-on service as part of its insurance product offering in the future. 

Jade Devlin at NFU Mutual, continued: “Unfortunately there can be some degree of stigma attached to being a less confident driver which means for many it is a hidden problem. Our research shows a motorist’s confidence can be knocked for a whole host of reasons from past collisions to less frequent driving and the type of roads used, and with lockdown easing drivers are facing unique concerns. We hope the 1,000 free Drive Doctors sessions will go some way to boost confidence and help prevent accidents. We’re expecting high demand and if so, we’ll be looking at what more we can do to help make roads safer for everyone.”

The situations drivers find most stressful to drive in:

  • Driving nerves or tension in general is most common for women, at 69% vs 43% of men.
  • While a huge 84% of the 18-34s said they feel to some degree nervous or tense while driving in general, this was also true for 53% of the 45-64s and 43% of the 65+.
  • Both women and men find night-time the most stressful time to drive, though particularly women at 43% vs. 31% for men.
  • The driving situations that most worry drivers were other drivers tailgating (56%), blinding LED headlamps at night (52%), drivers speeding (39%) and lorries pulling out on motorways (36%).
  • The most concerning types of road or junction are blind bends (26%), smart motorways (24%) and large roundabouts (22%).
  • The most common manoeuvre that creates worry for 22% is parallel parking, followed by overtaking a vehicle or cyclist at 21%.
  • The most concerning driving conditions are ice or snow on the road (61%), fog (48%) and blinding sun (46%).
  • More than a quarter of drivers (26%) think they would be unlikely to pass their theory test if they took it today and more than 1 in 10 (14%) believe they wouldn’t pass their practical test.
  • Nearly half (45%) of drivers would like to have a driving confidence session. The highest proportion (39%) went on to say they would most welcome training on how to use their vehicle in an emergency situation such as skidding on ice

NFU Mutual has also provided complimentary home and national recovery RAC breakdown cover to 600,000 car and light goods vehicle customers for nearly a year to support customers with flat battery breakdowns and keep key workers on the roads throughout the pandemic. First introduced during May 2020, the cover has been extended to 30 June 2021.

Existing and new NFU Mutual customers can enter for their chance to win the free ‘driver confidence’ sessions via the NFU Mutual website:

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