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Car-tious Brits: One in three motorists are anxious and scared about rising traffic levels due to threats from aggressive drivers and their own rusty driving

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After more than a year spent under lockdown restrictions, Co-op Insurance’s ‘Covid and the Car’ report has revealed that more than one in three (35%) British motorists are feeling anxious, nervous and scared as traffic on the nation’s roads returns to normal levels.

Research shows that almost four in ten UK drivers (39%) admit that their main fear is other drivers being aggressive, with a further 30% claiming their own driving skills are ‘rusty’ and ‘out of practice’.

The insurer has already seen a jump in claims relating to bumps and accidents from the week commencing 12 April – when step two of the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown kicked in – compared to the week before, highlighting the increased risk of incidents as more drivers get behind the wheel.

As test centres open up this week, it appears that young drivers aged 16 to 24 years are the most anxious group to emerge from the pandemic, with two-thirds (64%) saying that busier roads are a major concern for them and a further 32% of these claiming they haven’t been on a motorway during lockdown.

Similarly, almost half of females polled (46%) confess to being nervous about busier traffic levels, compared to 25% of men – with 38% of female drivers saying they dread hostility from antagonistic drivers. And one in ten women (11%) admit to being concerned about driving on busier roads with a new baby on board, compared to 4.6% of males.

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When it comes to car maintenance, a worrying one in four (26%) car owners confess to not having carried out a MOT, service or other essential checks on their vehicle in the last six months.

The way Britons get around on a daily basis is also at a Corona-crossroads according to the report, which shows that Covid has turned people off using public transport, with almost four in ten (37%) of those polled stating they’ll use it less than ever. Reasons cited are that they fear it will be too crowded and there is less chance of catching Coronavirus while in their car.

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It’s not all doom and gloom for motorists, with over a fifth (21%) saying they’re excited to get back behind the wheel. And almost a third of those polled said they are planning to buy a new vehicle in the next 12 months, with one in three set to splash out on a hybrid vehicle (31%) and one in four on an electric car (27%). Only 15% planned on buying a fossil fuel vehicle, showing that petrol and diesel are falling out of favour with today’s more eco-conscious drivers.

On average, men are prepared to splash out a staggering £27,403 on brand new wheels, whilst women will spend £20,326.

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It also looks like two-car households across the country are set to decline – 9% of respondents have already stopped using a second car, 20% say they’re considering it to save money and 11% want to do so to reduce their carbon footprint.

A third of those surveyed said they were planning on buying a new car in the next 12 months

Charles Offord, Managing Director, Co-op Insurance, said: “It’s concerning to hear that many of the nation’s drivers feel anxious about busier roads and aggression from other drivers. We’re urging people to reacquaint themselves with their car before embarking on longer journeys and to check that it has had all relevant checks and services. Knowing your car is safe and roadworthy should offer drivers peace of mind and help to boost their confidence. And it goes without saying that all motorists should show consideration to other drivers at all times.”

Racing driver and car fanatic, Jodie Kidd, added: “For me there’s nothing like the thrill of the open road and setting off on a road trip is just as exciting as arriving at the destination! It’s great to hear that many British motorists share in my excitement but also understandable that the last year may have changed the way many of us feel about driving, particularly those who have been learning to drive on quieter roads or those who have welcomed a baby and might not have ventured too far. My advice to anyone who is feeling apprehensive is to build up your confidence with regular trips on familiar roads before heading out onto the motorway.”

Last September, Co-op Motor Insurance launched the ‘T’ plate to help young or newly qualified drivers with telematics to feel safer on the road. Like an ‘L’ plate, the ‘T’ plate is displayed on the car to indicate to other road users that the vehicle is fitted with a black box and the driver is being monitored.

It also launched a pay-by-mile trial with By Miles to offer customers whose driving habits have changed, greater flexibility. Rather than paying an annual premium, drivers pay a fixed amount each year to cover their non-driving risks, such as theft and vandalism, then pay for the rest of their cover monthly, based on how many miles they drive.

And for those who are working at home and haven’t been behind the wheel as much, the insurer, alongside car care specialist Fixter offers a convenient MOT and car servicing option for car owners. Vehicles are picked up at home and returned at a place and time to suit.

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