Coronavirus lockdown can make return to driving overwhelming, study says

After months of staying home and driving infrequently, a new study showed getting behind the wheel can be overstimulating.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read

Ease yourself back in behind the wheel.

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It's like riding a bicycle. You never forget how to drive a car once you put in the practice and gain experience. But, like anything in life, removing something from a daily routine can cause skills or familiarity to rust. Driving, according to a new study, isn't immune.

Reviews.com sampled just over 1,200 drivers with varying ages and a near split of men and women to see how they felt when driving a car for the first time in the past four months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The sample size is on the smaller side, but it may still provide a snapshot into how many other drivers feel when hopping in the car again.

Of the 1,207 respondents, 28% of them said they felt "overwhelmed" and "overstimulated" when returning to a regular driving habit following months of lockdown and social distancing. While there was little difference between men and women, a person's age affected their response.

For those over the age of 65, 40% of those surveyed said they felt "very" overwhelmed when driving. In contrast, most respondents aged 18-35 said they only felt "somewhat" overwhelmed, or felt no change since they last drove. The busier the road or highway, the more overwhelmed a person felt, too.

One person told Reviews.com the overstimulation went away after about a week of driving regularly again. Again, this is a small sample, but the wider picture will likely include more traffic crashes or citations across the US. Numerous cities reported an increase of reckless driving or speeding during the strictest lockdown measures in the US. Traffic congestion fell sharply during April, specifically, and some drivers clearly took advantage of the situation.

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