How has Coronavirus (COVID-19) affected traffic and ultimately your car tyres? We investigate. 

With lockdown slowly easing, now’s the time to explore the ways in which the pandemic has changed our roads. For instance, how do lockdown traffic statistics compare to figures from “ordinary” years? Get ready for a look at three different time periods -- 2008, 2018 and 2020 -- as we try to develop a fuller picture of the situation. 

Finally, keep reading until the end, where we’ve got some useful consumer advice on car tyres - all in an effort to make your commute easier as ordinary life slowly resumes. 


Bank Holiday 2020 traffic was well down

Traffic during Bank Holiday Friday (April 10th) was down 73% in 2020. In fact, on this day, there were fewer people on the road than the Friday prior (April 3rd), which had been a normal workday. 

Bank Holiday Monday told a similar story. Traffic was down 77% compared to previous years, and there were fewer cars on the road than the previous Monday (again, a normal workday).

Incredible stuff.

Still, it’s worth beating the rush 

When habits return to normal, and Bank Holidays are enjoyed as they have been in previous years, you can expect congested roads.

In this case, here’s a top tip: head out at the time you would for work. 

During normal Bank Holiday years – i.e., periods that are pandemic-free – setting out at 7AM will mean you encounter vastly less traffic than you would on a normal weekday. Between 70 and 80% fewer cars, in fact.

Pop out later, however - say, 11AM - and you’ll be stuck in more congestion than ever (the M25 is just one example of this). 

Bank Holiday 2008

Bank Holiday 2018

Avoid the M25, M1 and M60

Looking to head somewhere special in the next few months?

You might want to avoid the three busiest commuter roads:

  • M25
  • M1
  • M60

And what’s more, ensure you get your tyres checked. Should you need new ones, we’ll be able to give you a great price on car tyres.

How long do tyres last - and how to make them last longer

Tyre life is dependent on a few external factors, including the quality of the tyre, the roads you’re driving on and tyre maintenance. But one thing you can control is your driving style. 

Driving at high speeds will heat up the tyres and cause them wear and tear. Avoid hard braking and rough cornering as well.

You should expect to extract 20,000 miles of life from your front set and 40,000 miles from your back pair. 

Defective tyres are going to cost you 

Driving with dangerous or defective tyres could put you at risk of a fine and even three points on your license – per tyre! And then there’s the financial penalty – driving around with four defective tyres you could set you back £10,000.

Bikes and vans in focus

300% more cyclists are out on the roads over lockdown

With COVID-19 in force, two wheels is the new normal. We picked a random Saturday – the 30th of May 2020 – and discovered that bicycle traffic on this day had jumped as much as 300% against this day in previous years. Meanwhile footfall for rail and underground trains was down nearly 100%. 

Driving a van? You’ll have plenty of company, even in these times

55% of UK vans were on the road the day after lockdown measures were enforced (March), dropping to a 38% low the week after, but quickly bouncing back to 40-50% of normal levels in April.  

By May, the roads were host to 70% of the usual number we’re used to.  

Healthy numbers of online orders have probably contributed to these healthy figures.

Vans 2008

Vans 2018

Traffic statistics over time

Congestion has been decreasing as the years go by 

We tend to think our roads get busier, but that’s not the case. 2018 congestion figures are lower than 2008’s, despite five million more registered vehicles in circulation.

2020, meanwhile, has seen traffic ease even further. In the midst of the pandemic, April weekday roads were 68% and 78% less busy (weekdays and weekends respectively).* 

Rise early to beat the rush as lockdown eases

As people start to return to the office, keep this important rush hour statistic in mind: we’re comfortable rising earlier than ever to beat the traffic.

In fact, pit 2018 against 2008 and you’ll discover that 15% more cars are on the roads at 5AM. 

The upshot? As you start to gear up for your commute back to work, make sure you set your alarm clock back an hour or two.

And if you think an A-road might be better for avoiding the congestion, think again. On several occasions in 2018, routes between the A366 and A4 were busier than the M25.

Weekdays 2008

Weekdays 2018

The good news? Roads are getting safer. 

Contrary to what you might think, Brits are actually taking it easier on the roads. Our average driving speed at peak times is decreasing on five of the six busiest motorways. There’s also been a 30% drop in casualties in the past ten years.

Want more great content to chew on? Why not check out our infographic on the best places to buy a used car in the UK.