Coronavirus (COVID-19): Answering drivers’ questions

Here we try to answer questions you may have about driving and using your car during the coronavirus outbreak. We'll keep these frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers as up to date as possible - and we've also included links to other websites for further information.

Important – the following does not constitute health advice, and official advice from the Government about travel and transport can change at any time. For the latest information and advice on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak always check official sources including GOV.UK and NHS.UK.

Information on the RAC's response to the coronavirus, and the service we are providing, is available on this dedicated page.

Driving in the UK

If you are self-isolating, always follow the official guidance at GOV.UK.

Is the official advice on driving and using a car the same across the UK?

No. Drivers should follow the specific advice given by each government depending on whether they are in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

What trips am I allowed to make by car?

Refer to the specific instructions set out according to the links above. The UK Government is advising people to minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding the busiest times and routes.


Can I drive somewhere for recreation, exercise, to walk my dog, or for a day trip? How far can I go?

You are advised to stay local for exercise purposes, whether that involves walking, cycling or taking the car to a location to exercise. Day trips should not be taken, and you must practice social distancing wherever you go. Think carefully about where you decide to travel to, and when, to lessen the chances of coming into contact with other people. Remember most amenities currently remain closed.


Can I use my car to go and see family and friends to check they’re okay?

You should only leave your home for very specific reasons set out above. This includes visiting members of your support bubble, if you are in one, to provide care for a vulnerable person or if you are volunteering - so long as you don’t have any coronavirus symptoms.. The rules are different elsewhere in the UK.


Can I drive to go on holiday in the UK? Can I book a holiday in the UK?

Overnight stays outside the home are not permitted at the current time - this includes staying in second (holiday) homes. See GOV.UK. You may still be able to book a holiday for later in the year or next year, but check booking conditions thoroughly for rebooking/refund policies and consider taking out travel insurance.


Is the experience of driving likely to be very different to normal?

Check our guide to car care if you are using your car more now than earlier in the pandemic. If you don't feel confident, you may want to familiarise yourself with driving again on quieter roads that you know well before attempting a longer trip.

Be aware of other road users as you normally would, but note that the number of people cycling and walking will have increased substantially in some areas. Some modifications to road layout can also be expected, especially in cities (for example, larger pavements to allow for social distancing and more pop-up cycle lanes).


Should I share my car with other people?

Solo journeys are strongly advised at the moment. If you do need to share a car, you should only do so with members of your household.

You should avoid sharing a vehicle with someone from another household - more information can be found here. Specific guidance for Scotland now states that you should not share a car with anyone from a different household.


Should I use a car if I'm self-isolating?

If you have any symptoms of the coronavirus, the Government says you and everyone in your household must get tested and self-isolate at home. They advise against going out even to buy food or other essentials – you should call on family and friends from other households to help, and make use of home delivery services if possible.


Is it safer to use my car than public transport or taxis?

If you have access to a car, you may prefer to use this at the moment.

Social distancing is fundamentally difficult in taxis, so again you should use your own car where possible. Where this isn’t possible in a taxi, you should face away from other people, have the windows open to ensure a clear flow of fresh air, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible. Be aware of the interior and exterior surfaces you and other people may touch, and wash your hands as soon as possible after the journey.


Should I wear a face mask or covering when I’m in a vehicle or out and about?

Face coverings (not surgical/medical face masks) are recommended in enclosed spaces, and are mandatory in shops and some other locations. They are also essential for any journeys made by public transport. If you need to take a taxi, you should also wear one. GOV.UK carries a guide on how to use face coverings properly.


If I don’t comply with the Government advice, am I breaking the law?

The requirements everyone has to follow are set out in law, with the police acting with discretion and common sense in applying it. However, individuals can be fined up for repeat offences.


What if I’m not using my car at all at the moment?

The RAC provides advice on how to look after and maintain your vehicle through the coronavirus outbreak. 


I need to drive in London instead of using public transport for work. Do I need to pay the Congestion and Ultra-Low Emission Zone charges?

Yes. Note that from 22nd June, the Congestion Charge increased to £15 a day, and now applies seven days a week.

Driving to continental Europe

Can I drive to elsewhere in Europe from the UK, and am I be covered if my car breaks down?

As entry to other countries from the UK may be restricted, we strongly advise you to read the latest government advice. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) carries the latest advice on international travel.

If you have RAC European Breakdown cover, we’ll still come to your rescue if you break down but you may experience delays if local restrictions are in place. There may also be delays in sourcing hire cars, hotel accommodation and getting your car home if it can't be fixed.

Please note that travel insurance policies generally do not cover travel undertaken to an area where the FCDO advises against all but essential travel.

How can I find out what the entry requirements are for different countries?

You must check the FCDO website before you make any plans. The RAC website also carries more generic advice on driving in different European countries.

Car care and support provided by the RAC

How to look after your car from home

Will the RAC be there for me if I need to use my car and it doesn’t start or breaks down?

The RAC is still here for customers' journeys wherever they break down - we've continued to provide a full service right through the pandemic. For the latest information on our service, read our response to COVID-19 page.


I’m worried my car won’t start when I need it to – what can I do?

People are rightly worried about their car batteries going flat because they aren’t driving as much as normal. But simply starting a car occasionally isn’t likely to help, in fact this may end up draining a weak battery.

If you need to use your vehicle and it doesn’t start, you can still call us for roadside assistance.

If you have more than one car it’s probably best to alternate between them so they both get used. You should also consider driving the one with the older or weaker battery more often.

If you keep your car in a garage, you may want to consider using a trickle charger which uses electricity to keep a battery charged.

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I have a flat tyre but need to use my car – what do I do?

You have a number of options. RAC Approved Garages are open, and follow the RAC's COVID-19 Code of Conduct. You could use a service like RAC Tyres which allows you to order tyres online and get them fitted at a garage, or one that will come out and fit tyres at your home.

The RAC can also help - please contact us as normal. Our response to COVID-19 page provides updates on our service at this time.

I have a cracked windscreen – what do I do?

Speak to your motor insurer first. They can tell you about your policy entitlement and any costs, and tell you how your windscreen can be fixed or replaced.

Remember, driving with a cracked windscreen can be dangerous, so you shouldn’t risk driving - if you do, you could be prosecuted. Find out more about the law and the risks of driving with a cracked windscreen.

One or more of my car’s head/tail/brake lights have failed, what do I do?

Some bulbs need to be fitted by a garage, but others can be bought and fitted by high street retailers. In some cases, you may be able to fit bulbs yourself if you are careful.

First, check your car manual to find out the exact specification of the bulb(s) you need. Then look at your options for buying and getting them fitted.

If you're buying bulbs online, make sure you use a reputable retailer and look for brand names you can trust. This helps to ensure the bulb performs properly.


Is it safe for me to use petrol pumps / electric vehicle chargers? 

Take sensible precautions here. You should limit any time spent at petrol stations and motorway service areas. Always use disposable gloves provided when handling fuel pumps and consider using the ‘pay at pump’ or app payment facilities where possible to reduce your contact with other people. Wash or sanitise your hands before driving off again.

For electric vehicle drivers, consider using disposable gloves. If you don't use gloves, avoid touching your face afterwards and always wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can.

MOT and car servicing

My car’s MOT is due but I can’t leave the house – what do I do?

Garages are remaining open and MOTs can be carried out as normal.

The RAC recommends those whose vehicles which had their MOTs extended earlier in the year to still get their cars tested as normal. Many garages offer a collect-and-return service, which means you won't need to take the car for an MOT yourself - check with you preferred garage to see if they offer this (the majority of garages that are part of the RAC Approved Garages scheme do).


I need to tax my car but can’t as the MOT expired while I’ve been self-isolating – what do I do?

Your car will still need to be taxed as normal. For more details, visit the DVLA section of GOV.UK.

Motor insurance

If I’m not using my car, do I still need to insure it?

Yes. Cars need to be insured even if they are not being driven right now. However, if you have no plans to use your car for the forseeable future you can choose to declare it off the road by making it 'SORN'.

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Driving tests and lessons

Are driving tests going ahead?

Theory tests are currently suspended. In England, the soonest they will restart is 12 April. Changes to lockdowns can affect these dates, with more information available on GOV.UK.

Practical driving tests are also suspended. The soonest they will begin will be 22 April in England and Wales. There is no set date for them to restart in Scotland.

Can I still have my normal driving lessons?

Lessons are currently suspended. The soonest they will restart is 12 April in England and Wales, and 26 April in Scotland.

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