If you’ve been out and about on the roads in the current lockdown – which should just be for only ‘essential’ reasons, including when you can’t work from home or need food supplies – you might have wondered if there were now more cars on the roads than in previous lockdowns.

And that has now been confirmed, as 10 per cent more cars are said to be in daily use now than in the first week of lockdown in March 2020, with 31 per cent more miles being driven overall compared to then.

That’s according to RAC Black Box Insurance, which has been looking at car usage trends across the three nationwide lockdowns.

Current traffic levels are now said to be similar to May 2020, when many were encouraged to return to their workplaces if they weren’t able to do so from home.

The RAC has also said that another sign that more cars are being used now than before is the number of breakdowns it’s been called out to.

It said the start of January was its busiest year on record for callouts, though it acknowledged that minimal car usage over Christmas due the coronavirus pandemic may have resulted in this.

RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said: The feel of this latest nationwide lockdown is very different to that which was first imposed in 2020 with greater numbers of people working in ‘Covid-secure’ workplaces, more shops offering click-and-collect services, and more children of keyworkers attending schools.

“Nonetheless, it’s vital drivers think carefully before using their vehicles and ensure they’re only venturing out for essential trips as specified by government guidelines. Every unnecessary journey increases the chances of a breakdown, or worse a road traffic collision, and risks adding to the pressures being experienced by our emergency and healthcare workers.

“Unfortunately, the return of colder weather from next week risks increasing the chances of drivers encountering breakdowns with flat batteries which we expect to cause people problems, especially if they’re hardly using their vehicles at the moment.”

The RAC recommended that drivers rarely using their cars at the moment invest in a trickle charger to help keep the battery in perfect order, and also for any motorists with two cars to alternate between the two when making any essential journeys.