A third of drivers say having access to a car is more important than ever following the coronavirus outbreak, while one-in-10 have actually stopped driving completely since the Government began an enforced lockdown, according to new research from the RAC.

The figures underline the increasing reliance many drivers have on their cars to help complete essential journeys, with three-quarters (75%) saying they use the car for permitted food shopping, 28% saying they use it to get to pharmacies, and a fifth (18%) needing the car to provide care or help to a vulnerable person. A fifth (20%) also say they use the car to get to work as they are in a role where they can’t work from home.

But worryingly, the research also suggests that some drivers appear to be continuing to use their cars for trips that would not be classed as ‘essential’. Five per cent say they drive a short distance so they can get some exercise despite the clear government instruction to ‘stay local’ when doing so, and 4% go for a drive to give their cars a run.

Both of these types of journeys carry the avoidable risks of road traffic collisions at a time when the emergency services are under enormous pressure, and of unnecessary breakdowns.

Breakdowns attended by RAC patrols were also down sharply over Easter compared to last year – across the UK there were 50% fewer breakdowns between Good Friday and Easter Monday.