Why do we ‘drive home’ but ‘drive to work’?

Published 01 June 2020

June 1 update: Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been loosened further in the UK from today, though the general advice is still to stay at home as much as possible, and vulnerable people (those over 70 or with underlying health conditions) are asked to take particular care if venturing out, especially before the end of June. Anyone displaying symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate.

  • Devolved areas within the UK are lifting lockdown measures independently, and details for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found below, but for England the new advice is that you can:
  • – spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
    – visit car showrooms and outdoor markets
    – in line with the arrangements made by your school, send your child to school or nursery if they are in early years, reception, year 1 or year 6, if you could not before
  • – if you are an elite athlete as defined by this guidance, train and compete using the specified gyms, pools and sports facilities you need

Supermarkets remain open so you can drive there for your weekly shop, and and picking up daily essentials from cornershops is also OK. Commuting is allowed if you cannot work from home, and in fact cars are encouraged for this if walking or cycling is not possible (more below).

Non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms and leisure centres will remain closed, so don’t head out onto the roads hoping to find they’re now up-and-running again. The government says they will reopen “in a phased manner” from June 15.

  1. The government says that at all times, you should continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, particularly ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household.
  2. But there are things we are still not allowed to do in England:
  3. – visit friends and family inside their homes
    – stay overnight away from your own home, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
    exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
    – use an outdoor gym or playground
  4. – gather outdoors in a group of more than six (excluding members of your own household)
  5. At the beginning of May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first steps in relaxing the restrictions on people leaving their homes, including allowing motorists to drive somewhere in order to exercise, allowing people to meet friends and family outside of their homes (with sufficient social distancing) and re-opening businesses such as golf clubs.
  6. He also encouraged those who could not work from home to return to work where possible, and implored them to either use bike, foot or car rather than using public transport, which can only operate at a limited capacity due to social distancing rules.
  7. “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work,” said Johnson in his address.

“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible — because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.”

The government has also said that people from separate households are allowed to share cars if necessary, which might help people who want to avoid public transport but don’t own a car. However, it is recommended you keep the windows down to ventilate and clean the car between journeys. You are encouraged to find an alternative method of transport if possible.

The government is still asking us to reduce our travel as much as possible, and to stay as local as possible.

However, it is now far more permissible to go for a drive than it was in April when, as everyone will remember with a grimace, people were only allowed to leave their houses for one of four reasons (to get essential shopping, to do one form of exercise per day, for medical reasons, or for essential work purposes) or risk being fined by police. Figures show that over 14,000 fines were handed out between March 27 and May 11.

There was outcry as it emerged that Boris Johnson’s senior advisor Dominic Cummings drove 260 miles from London to Durham in late March, during the period when lockdown restrictions were at their tightest. At the time of the trip, both he and his wife were showing symptoms of the coronavirus. The NHS advice at the time was for people to stay at home and self-isolate, should they have symptoms.

Why Do We ‘Drive Home’ but ‘Drive TO Work’?

Cummings said he made the trip to his parents’ house in order to ensure that his child would be cared for if he and his wife both became too sick to provide care, and said he did not break any laws, given the exceptional circumstances. However, many people in similar situations pointed out that they followed the government advice and accused Cummings of breaking the spirit of the rules, if not the letter.

It also emerged that Cummings had made a 60-mile round trip from Durham to Barnard Castle, purportedly to test his eyesight before the trip back to London. It goes without saying that, if you think that you may be having issues with your eyesight, going for a drive is not the way to confirm your suspicions.

Two newspapers alleged that Cummings made a second trip to Durham, but he has denied these claims. In a press conference on Monday, he said he had acted “reasonably” and legally.

The Prime Minister has defended his advisor, saying that he “followed the instincts of every father.” The furore around Cummings’ actions has led one junior minister to resign and public approval of the government to plummet.

Those who were fined for breaching lockdown rules by travelling in their cars are particularly unhappy. The government has said that it will not be reassessing lockdown fines, despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying that he would “look at” the issue of people being fined for travelling to find childcare.

Driving rules in Wales during coronavirus

If you live in — or near a border with — Wales or Scotland, be wary. Lockdown rules differ over both borders so you may be fined if caught driving in either country without good reason.

The First Minister of Wales on May 29 announced that two households in the same local area will be able to meet outdoors from June 1. You must follow social distancing and strict hand hygiene practices to control the spread of the virus.

  • ‘Local’ means not generally travelling more than 5 miles from home to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading from one area to another.
  • At the moment, you should only travel in Wales:
  • – to get to and from work, if you cannot work from home
    – to get essential food or medical supplies
    – to support someone who is vulnerable, if no-one else can do so
  • – for daily exercise, but staying local
  • You should not travel if you are:
  • – experiencing any coronavirus symptoms (on NHS 111)
    – self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household with somebody with symptoms
    – clinically extremely vulnerable
  • – shielding because of your age or a medical condition
  • You should avoid sharing taxis with people who are not in your household.
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If you normally share a vehicle with people from other households for essential journeys, the Welsh government says you should find a different way to travel, including walking or cycling if you can. Travelling in a car with people from other households is “not recommended” at the moment.

If you are driving, the Welsh government says to be aware that there may be more cyclists and pedestrians than usual.

Driving rules in Scotland during coronavirus

“Stay at home” is still the message in Scotland, except for very limited purposes (including travelling for work purposes, but only where they cannot work from home). If driving in or into Scotland you may also be stopped and asked where you are driving, and gatherings of more than two people in public are not allowed currently.

Police have been given the powers to enforce the measures – including through issuing fines and dispersing gatherings.

The rules are in place for six months unless revoked, and reviewed every 21 days.

Driving rules in Northern Ireland during coronavirus

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Why Do We ‘Drive Home’ but ‘Drive TO Work’?

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Can I drive during the coronavirus lockdown? – Which? News

The rules on driving during lockdown differ depending on where you live in the UK, and are regularly updated.

During the emergency period, the government originally said that you should only leave your home, and drive if necessary, if you have a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses included:

  1. For medical reasons, to provide care, or to help vulnerable people
  2. Travelling to and from work, but only when you cannot work from home
  3. To shop for basic necessities such as food. The government advises to do this as infrequently as you can, and use delivery services instead if possible.
  • The rules on leaving the house, and driving, are gradually being eased, but the precise rules depend on which country in the UK you live in.
  • Regardless of where you live, you must not travel in a private vehicle with someone outside of your household.
  • Read the latest on how supermarkets are responding to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Keep up to date with our latest coronavirus news and advice.

Can I drive for exercise or outdoor activity?

You can leave your house for exercise. Official guidance on driving for exercise depend on where in the UK you live; all the rules below are on the basis that social distancing is maintained between people from different households.

  • In England, you can travel as far as you wish for exercise or outdoor activity (such as sunbathing); there is no limit on how often you can do this. From Monday 1 June, you can also visit friends and family in parks or private gardens, in groups of up to six.
  • In Northern Ireland, it is also permitted to drive to exercise, and groups of up to six people can meet outdoors.
  • In Scotland, from Friday 28 May, people from two households are permitted to meet outside in groups of up to eight. Travel within your local area is now allowed – although there is ‘strong advice’ not to travel more than five miles for leisure.
  • In Wales, you can drive to exercise provided that you stay within your local area. No journeys outside your local area should be taken to exercise in the countryside. You can exercise with members of one other household.

Those that live in England should not drive to Scotland or Wales for exercise or outdoor activity.

The bullets above reflect official, country by country guidance. You can share your experiences of driving during lockdown over on Which? Conversation.

If you have an allotment, you are allowed to visit it during lockdown. While visiting your allotment, observe social distancing rules, and clean your hands regularly. If you’re spending lots of time on your allotment right now, find out the best fruit and veg to grow and the best compost to use.

Specific driving rules for parents in certain circumstances

If you’re a divorced or separated parent of children under the age of 18, you’re permitted to drive your children to and from the other parent’s home.

If your child is still at school, for example if you’re a keyworker, you’re allowed to drive your child to school.

Why Do We ‘Drive Home’ but ‘Drive TO Work’?

When you shouldn’t drive

Teen Driving

After spending years protecting your children from all sorts of dangers on the road and off, you now face the prospect of handing them the keys to the family car. It's time for them to learn how to drive. Are you prepared? We can help you mold your teen into a safe and capable driver.

Teen Drivers


Number of teen (15 to 19) drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017


Teens killed in crashes in 2017


Number of teens killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2017

Risky Driving Habits Traffic Safety Facts

NHTSA’s Teen Driving site contains information on States' driver licensing requirements for teens as well as ideas and resources to help you—the parents—lay down the ground rules with your aspiring driver before you hand over the car keys.

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Here you will find in-depth information on some of the most common safety problems novice teen drivers should avoid.

Educate yourself about the consequences of illegal alcohol use by minors, the benefits of seat belt use, the growing epidemic of distracted driving, and much more.

Your teen sees a driver's license as a step toward freedom, but you might not be sure your teen is ready for the road. One thing is certain: teens aren't ready to have the same level of driving responsibility as adults. Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience.

They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car. To help your teen stay safe behind the wheel, all 50 States and the District of Columbia have a three-stage graduated driver licensing (GDL) system that limits high-risk driving situations for new drivers.

This approach can reduce your teen's crash risk by as much as 50 percent.

What Can You Do?

  • Learn about your State’s GDL laws. Note that the laws and restrictions can vary from State to State. Familiarizing yourself with the restrictions placed on your teen's license can better assist you in enforcing those laws. You have the opportunity to establish some important ground rules for your teen driver. Restrict night driving and passengers, prohibit driving while using the phone or other electronic devices, and require seat belt use at all times.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Remind them that it is illegal to drink under the age of 21, and it is illegal—and deadly—to drink and drive. If a teen is under 21, his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) should always be at .00, not just under .08, which is the legal limit for drivers over age 21.
  • Be a good role model. Remember that your child looks to you as a driver, so practice safe driving yourself. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions. It can be a great way to spend time together and to allow your teen to improve some basic driving skills. Your teen's learning starts at home.
  • Don't rely solely on a driver's education class to teach your teen to drive. Remember that driver's education should be used as just part of a GDL system.

Bottom Line:

You have more influence on your teen than you may think. Be a good example and get involved in their driving habits from the beginning, and stay involved for the duration of their teen years.

Teens' inexperience behind the wheel makes them more susceptible to distraction behind the wheel. One in three teens who text say they have done so while driving.

Is your teen one of them? Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen's risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.

Talking or texting on the phone takes your teen's focus off the task of driving, and significantly reduces their ability to react to a roadway hazard, incident, or inclement weather.

Distracted driving can take on many forms beyond texting and talking on the cell phone.

Many teens may try to use their driving time to eat their morning breakfast or drink coffee, to apply makeup, or to change the radio station.

Many teens are distracted by the addition of passengers in the vehicle. Any distraction is a dangerous distraction. Taking eyes off the road even for five seconds could cost a life.

  • Talk to your teen about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share some stories and statistics related to teen drivers and distracted driving. Remind your teen often that driving is a skill that requires the driver's full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at his or her destination.
  • Familiarize yourself with your State's graduated driver licensing law, and enforce its guidelines for your teen. Check to see what your State's laws are on distracted driving; many States have novice driver provisions in their distracted driving laws. Create your own rules if necessary. Restricting the number of passengers your teen can have, or the hours your teen can drive, is a very effective way to minimize distraction for your teen driver. Talk about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your State's penalties for talking or texting on a phone while driving.
  • Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you've set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, further limiting the hours during which they can drive, or limiting the places where they can drive. Parents could also consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone—a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.
  • Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.

Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. All the time.

Can I go for a drive during a global pandemic?

TORONTO — Given the continued spread of COVID-19, Canadians are spending less time outdoors. Thanks to suggestions from government and health officials to stay inside, the acts of stepping out for a bit of fresh air and going for a walk have become controversial.

But what about driving? Seeing as a car is an enclosed space, there’s less chance for outside exposure. For many, it can also be fairly relaxing, helping to relieve stress after a long day of being cooped up. So, is it OK to just go for a drive?

While the Canadian government hasn’t banned driving or publicly released any sort of guideline as to when it is acceptable to drive, the overriding message from top government officials has been to stay indoors and practise physical distancing.

“Listening to public health rules is your duty,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday during one of his daily press conferences. “Staying home is your way to serve, so be smart about what you do, about the choices you make. That is how you’ll serve your country and how we’ll all serve each other.”

Top health officials have echoed this message, asking Canadians not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, including to go to work, pick up food or medication, or to seek out medical assistance. It’s also advised not to meet with anyone you don’t live with and to keep at least two metres’ distance from others when outdoors.

With such straightforward suggestions, infectious diseases expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch says there should be no question surrounding whether or not it is acceptable to drive around unnecessarily.

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“There’s clear messaging on the public health website,” he told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday via telephone. “Everyone knows what to do.”

In fact, the doctor says he’s been getting a number of questions from members of the public about specific daily practices, including something as simple as how to appropriately play tennis.

“It’s going to be impossible to micromanage every single possibility of human behaviour,” he said. “I just hope people factor in some common sense.”

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says there is a clear answer to the question of whether it’s ok to leave the house for an aimless drive: no.

Cars and driving

There's more to having a set of wheels than getting from here to there. Jumping in a car is a ticket to freedom, independence and adventure.

For people new to paralysis, driving is a sure way to get back into the swing of things. But can you do it? Can a paralyzed person get behind the wheel and handle the machine and the traffic?

Driving is quite possible for many people who are paralyzed, even those with very limited hand and arm function. A wide range of adaptive driving equipment and vehicle modifications are on the market today.

Driving with a disability often means relearning to drive. The rules of the road don't change, but the controls do. Depending on one's specific needs, an adapted vehicle may include the following:

  • Hand controls for braking and accelerating
  • Power assist devices for easy steering
  • Touch ignition pads and gear shifts
  • Adjustable driver's seats
  • Automatic door openers
  • Joysticks for people with extremely limited hand function

For a person who has had a stroke, a spinner knob might be attached to the steering wheel for one-hand steering. A left gas pedal may be adapted if the right foot can't operate the gas.

Driving evaluation

The first step in the process is to get an evaluation from a qualified driver trainer. This will determine your basic driving set up, specific modifications and driving equipment to match your needs.

The evaluation also assesses the following:

  • Vision screening and muscle strength
  • Flexibility and range of motion
  • Hand-eye coordination and reaction time
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Ability to handle adaptive equipment.

An evaluator may also take into account medications a potential driver is taking.

To find a qualified evaluator, visit your local rehabilitation center or contact the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED), which maintains a list of certified specialists throughout the country.

Can I drive under coronavirus restrictions? Can I travel to my holiday home? What are the penalties for breaking the rules? – ABC News

With the news that Australia is starting to flatten the coronavirus curve, drivers tempted to hit the road have been urged to think twice.

Conscious of keeping coronavirus under control, police across the country are continuing to crack down on non-essential travel.

So what is essential? Can you drive to see a partner or a relative? What about a quick trip to a holiday home or for a leisurely cruise around town?

Each state and territory has different rules so here is a breakdown of what you can and cannot do behind the wheel.

Can I drive to see my partner?

Most state and territories allow partners to visit each other, but there are conditions.(ABC News: Sowaibah Hanifie)

  • Broadly, drivers must have a reasonable excuse to leave their homes.
  • These can include: shopping for food or supplies, travelling for work, to obtain health care or to exercise.
  • In New South Wales, the listed reasons do not specify driving to see a partner, but earlier this week NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said visits would be allowed for “caring reasons”.

“We have to look after each other, but don't take the whole family with you. Don't take your grandparents,” he said.

In Victoria, similar restrictions apply but partners are an exception. If you live apart, you can visit each other at home.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap.

South Australians have been implored to adhere to the “spirit of directions” about travel, and restrictions on social gatherings are less strict.

Visits where care or support are being provided have been allowed.

What are the risks of getting COVID-19 while driving around?

I’ve seen people driving around wearing masks, even when they’re the only person in a vehicle. What are the risks of getting the coronavirus while driving? Is it safe to drive with the windows down?

Chances are, the only way you could catch COVID-19 on the road is if somebody in your car already has it.

“I’d only wear a mask in the car if there’s someone else in the car who might be infected,” says David Evans, a virologist and professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Alberta. “You can open a window in the car. It’s a beautiful day today in Edmonton, sunny and three degrees Celsius and so I drove to work with the top down on my convertible, no mask.”

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Last week, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said that wearing masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus might not be a bad idea.

While you might consider a mask at the grocery store, where it can be tough to keep two metres from other people, public officials haven’t said to wear masks while driving.

That makes sense, Evans says, because the virus that causes COVID-19 isn’t believed to spread easily in the air, especially outside.

“This idea that the external environment is contaminated with enough virus to cause infections isn’t credible,” Evans says. “We’ve been doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, and I figure it’ll still be an experimental challenge for us to detect infectious virus spread out onto surfaces by a sick patient around a hospital room.”

Coronavirus not in the air?

There has been public confusion over whether or not the coronavirus is airborne.

“Very few viruses are spread as airborne particles,” Evans says. “Measles is an exception, but even that capacity is limited to indoor rooms. It doesn’t spread outdoors because outside it gets diluted and inactivated below the point it can cause infections.”

The coronavirus isn’t believed to be airborne, but it can spread by droplets from someone who is infected.

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So, if someone with COVID-19 coughs up mucous or is “speaking moistly” near you, you could breathe in the droplets containing the virus. That’s why we’ve been told to keep at least two metres from each other.

  • Or, if someone with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes on their hands and then touches something, such as a door handle or gas pump nozzle, they could leave particles of the virus, called virions.
  • If you get enough virions on your hands and then touch your mucous membranes, including your mouth, nose and eyes, you could get infected.
  • That’s why surfaces should be disinfected and why you should be washing your hands before you touch your face.

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