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On the road during lockdown

Here's what motorists should know.

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People driving to destress - why cars have become vessels of escape

2020-09-01 07:30

Lance Branquinho

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Driving outside your area was restricted under lockdown Level 3.

  • Public transport networks are no longer a desirable way to travel.
  • Escaping cabin fever or strained home relations have powered the desire to simply go driving.
  • The lockdown has made driving a treasured experience again.
  • For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za.


Before the Covid-19 pandemic, futurists were telling us that driving as therapy would no longer be a thing.

Trend analysts confidently predicted that young people had no interest in owning a car. They were content with public transport and car-sharing. As with a great many other things, Covid-19 changed all of that.

Sophisticated public transport networks are no longer a desirable way to get anywhere as the pandemic continues to flare. The idea of standing shoulder to shoulder in a train or sitting tightly stacked in a bus, are terrifying to many. By the same logic, using an Uber which was vacated by a stranger only moments earlier, is just as undesirable. 

Covid-19 has revived the idea of solo automotive travel. Your personal car is now a safe transport health bubble to be enjoyed, not judged.


Have you found a new joy in driving or taking little roadtrips during the pandemic? Where have you driven recently with your loved ones? Please us and share your thoughts.

New research has indicated that car ownership is also becoming a crucial depressurisation space and escape for some. The new routine of working from home and being unable to move about with similar levels of social freedom have created interpersonal tensions which did not exist before lockdown.

Escaping cabin fever or strained home relations have powered the desire to simply go driving, for the sake of it. Research by OnePoll found that 73% of respondents admitted to using their car as a means of escape.

Lockdown regulations have surged screen time exposure, and driving is one of the few ways to break that cycle.

Volvo S90

Image: Wheels24 / Clavern Van der Post

Getting away from people and screens

Only a year ago, the idea of cruising or just going for a traditional Sunday drive were ridiculous notions for all but the most committed petrolheads.

Driving was the exact purpose of destination or activity and was deemed wasteful.

Now research indicates that 56% of drives might be purely for leisure and many of those miles are in the search for a change of scenery, something visually stimulating that is not streaming media relayed via a screen.

Driving remains an activity where your eyes are challenged in terms of sensory depth and peripherical complexity, by mostly natural stimuli. It is part responsibility, but also part visual inspiration, the calibre of which can never be replicated by any screen entertainment.

The human sense of adventure by virtue of exploration is something that has been a constant theme over millennia. We navigate waterways and jet through the atmosphere, but on an individual level, the car is our passport to true freedom of movement.

For those dedicated car enthusiasts, the truth they have always known is now self-evident: driving is good for your mind. It is an activity that involves skill and judgement, with real consequences. And when the journey is undefined, it helps you depressurise from the stress of daily life.

In a strange twist of irony, the lockdown has made driving a treasured experience again.

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