Have your driving skills deteriorated over lockdown?

Man driving car with one arm with woman sitting next to him

David Toscano

Posted November 01, 2021

Here’s how to regain your confidence behind the wheel as Victoria opens back up. 

No longer confined to essential trips within 5km, Victorians are taking the opportunity to get out and about in their motor vehicles, with road traffic approaching pre-pandemic levels in the aftermath of the state’s exit from lockdown.

However, with much of the last 18 months spent at home, driving skills, discipline and patience are likely to have deteriorated, with Victoria Police calling for extra care and concentration from motorists getting back behind the wheel for long drives.

In fact, this deterioration hasn’t gone unnoticed by fellow motorists. Recent research by Ford Australia found that 56 per cent of Australian drivers felt that driving behaviour had become more unpredictable since the start of the pandemic. The confidence of Victorian drivers has also taken a hit, with 18.7 per cent of the state’s respondents admitting they felt nervous on the roads due to the behaviour of others.

RACV Policy Lead - Safety, Elvira Lazar, said it was important for Victorians to exercise caution as they begin to travel further in their vehicles, including interstate trips.

“It’s an exciting time for Victorians, but we do need to be mindful of anticipated increases in traffic and congestion – we’re urging drivers to plan ahead, stay alert and have patience with each other,” Lazar said.

Regaining good driving habits

RACV Driver Training Operations Manager, Lydia Kendray says that it’s normal for people to be rusty and lacking confidence on the road after long stints of lockdown.

“Driving is like any other skill, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Habits that keep us and others safe like head checks, scanning roadside to identify potential hazards, and using indicators, can quickly go from being second nature to momentarily forgotten.”

“If something unexpected does happen on the roads, things like Comprehensive Car Insurance and Emergency Roadside Assistance are crucial. However, there are several things you can do to sharpen up your driving skills post-lockdown – whether you’ve been driving for decades, or are a new licence holder,” she adds.

Man driving car on road trip

Doing the Hazard Perception Test can sharpen your driving skills post-lockdown. Image: Getty

How to improve your driving skills (and those of your family and friends)

Take the Hazard Perception Test

The Hazard Perception Test, a computer-based test designed to check how well drivers can spot hazards and respond, is not just for those starting out with driving.

“We know new drivers are at greater risk of crashing in their first 12 months on the road, but that doesn’t mean older drivers can’t benefit from brushing up on their hazard skills too,” says Kendray.

With testing done online, it couldn’t be more convenient to book in for your test today.

Enrol in Drive School

The RACV Drive School goes beyond the VicRoads four stages of learning which helps learners pass their probationary driver test, with a six-stage driving program focused on developing better, safer and more confident drivers.

“If you’re worried about the younger drivers in your life, Drive School is a valuable tool for mentoring, developing and sharpening their driving awareness,” says Kendray.

“This is especially useful for those people who got their license at the beginning of the pandemic and haven’t been able to drive for prolonged periods,” she adds.

Drive School lessons can make for a thoughtful Christmas present for new license holders.


More tips to keep safe on the road

Check the safety of your vehicle

Checking the safety of your existing vehicle, or one you’re considering purchasing, can save you and others from a serious accident. If you’re in market for a used car, delve into the latest used car safety ratings to make an informed purchase decision.

For greater peace of mind, consider purchasing a comprehensive vehicle inspection prior to buying a used car. RACV vehicle inspections are conducted at RACV Accredited Auto Care Centres

Book in for a vehicle service

Book in for a service before taking off on that summer road trip. RACV Accredited Auto Care Centres can help with vehicle servicing and repairs, including windscreen repair and replacement.

“Regular servicing is absolutely key to maintaining a safe vehicle, especially if your vehicle has had minimal usage over the past two years,” says Kendray.

Take regular breaks on long drives

Before you head out on a long drive this summer, check the Driver Reviver sites along your route, where volunteers offer free coffee, tea, and snacks to get you to your destination safely.

“The saying drive, revive, survive exists for a reason,” says Kendray.

“Taking regular breaks on long drives is so important, because fatigue reduces our ability to react to hazards, and that can be fatal,” she adds.

For more information, check out our road safety hub.

RACV Car Insurance can protect you against loss in the event of a car accident.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.