COVID-19 and driving in the UK as a young driver?

By Gareth Dalton

It’s impossible to have missed what’s going on in today’s world. As a young driver, COVID-19 driving is especially causing issues if you are hoping to get your driving licence, or you were about to buy a car. The disruption has been immense during the lockdown.

Fortunately, we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel with restrictions being lifted and freedoms being restored. That said, there are still things you need to know, things you can and cannot do, rules and advice design to help you stay alert, control the virus and save lives.

Important – the following information does not constitute health advice. Official Government advice 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.

MOTs

When the Government introduced the lockdown in March 2020 the knock on effect meant that many garages had to close shop. This was a problem for cars that had MOT’s due. Because of this, they decided to extend the MOT certificates of cars between 30 March 2020 and 29 March 2021 to 18 months, rather than the normal 12.

However, the Government has now announced that it is cutting short the six-month coronavirus MOT extension, with conventional testing rules applying to most cars from 1 August. These changes apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

So, MOT centres are now open, go get it tested!!

Northern Ireland has different dates to restart MOT testing.

Driving lessons, theory and practical tests

England

The Government gave the go-ahead in England for driving lessons to restart on the 4 July. Learner drivers were able to resume driving lessons with Coronavirus restrictions.

The ruling also applies to private driving practice with someone you live with or in your “support bubble”.

The restart of the theory driving test also occurred on the 4 July.

The practical driving test for cars will restart on the 22 July with COVID measures.

Scotland

The Scottish Government are following a slightly different plan out of the Covid19 pandemic, and driving lessons remain suspended.

Good news though the theory test will restart in Scotland from 22 July with social distancing measures.

Finally, there is no date for the restart of the practical driving test.

However, you can still apply for an emergency driving test if you’re a critical worker.

Wales

For Welsh learner drivers driving lessons to have a planned restart date of 27 July.

You can take the theory test from 3 August.

The practical test will restart on 17 August.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the theory test was able to restart on 6 July.

The practical test will restart on 1 September

There is still no date for the restart of driving lessons in Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) “hopes to restore practical driving tests for cars as quickly as possible”.

A table showing the restart dates for the learning to drive process in GB

The DVSA, which handles driver testing in England, Scotland and Wales (DVA in Northern Ireland) has promised to contact everyone affected and rebook all cancelled tests at the earliest opportunity.

When driving tests restart, they will only be for people who had their driving test cancelled because of coronavirus.

All driving tests shall remain suspended in areas under local lockdown.

What if I can’t pay my insurance payments?

Be upfront with your insurance provider ASAP. They will want to help you.

It’s really important you do this as soon as possible. If you miss a payment and you don’t tell your insurance provider, your policy may be cancelled, leaving you without valid insurance.

It’s illegal to drive a car without minimum, third-party insurance and you could end up with a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 points on your licence. You do however have the option of making your car SORN (Statutory off road notice). See more below about this.

You can access free and impartial money advice, set up by the UK government:

Can I SORN my car and save on insurance and car tax?

Yes you can!!

In some cases, the coronavirus pandemic may mean you are not going to drive your car at all.

Getting a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) for your car means you won’t have to pay tax or car insurance.

However, you mustn’t drive or even park your car on a public road while SORN is in place.

Visit our advice page on how to SORN your car.

What if I can’t keep up my vehicle repayments?

Most finance or leasing providers now allow a 3 month payment holiday. You will need to contact your provider directly to establish what their policy is.

Be aware you will still be charged interest at the nominated rate against your finance or lease agreement. No getting out of that one.

If your application for a payment holiday is accepted, it won’t affect your credit record.

What should I do if I need to submit an insurance claim during lockdown?

We hope you won’t need to submit an insurance claim at this difficult time, but if you do, it’s reassuring to know that most insurance providers are continuing to operate as normal during the coronavirus pandemic.

So, if you need to submit a claim you should be able to do it in the normal way.

The best ways to submit a claim are to contact your insurance provider via email, using a claims portal on their website, or phone.

Be aware that some insurance providers may be running a slower service, especially if their claims handlers are working from home. However, you can count on receiving the level of cover you are entitled to.

If you have problems when making a claim, you can refer your case to the Association of British Insurers.

 

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