Nearly half of UK drivers fear they could catch coronavirus at a petrol station

UK drivers fear they could catch coronavirus while filling up their car with petrol, new research has revealed.

Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 6:50 pm
Updated Friday, 15th May 2020, 1:35 pm

41% of people in the UK are scared they will catch COVID-19 from a petrol station while lmost half of the UK (49%) are now wearing gloves to refuel their car.

Over three quarters of Brits (77%) now wash their hands after driving due to the outbreak and 14% of people in the UK are still making non-essential journeys despite government guidelines to help reduce coronavirus.

New research from car insurer Admiral reveals how coronavirus is affecting drivers around the country.

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Are you worried about filling up at a petrol station?

The investigation which polled 1,400 drivers in the UK aimed to understand drivers worries, woes and automotive hygiene during these unprecedented times.

For many around the UK, not going out in cars for weeks on end has left no need to head to a petrol station to refuel.

For others, such as the estimated 7.1 million key workers around the UK, this regular routine has remained necessary during these unusual times.

Admiral’s findings reveal that more than two fifths (41%) of people are scared they will catch coronavirus from a petrol station and almost half (48%) of those who are high-risk are also scared they will catch the virus from filling up their car.

When it comes to the key workers whose livelihoods revolve around driving, resulting in filling up regularly, the results reveal that over half (52%) of taxi drivers are scared they will catch coronavirus from a petrol station.

What’s more, a huge 69% of people believe that you can catch coronavirus from a petrol pump. With such a vast number of people feeling unsafe when carrying out such a regular day to day task, such as filling their car with fuel, it’s no surprise that people are taking extra precautions. as almost half of the UK (49%) are now wearing gloves when filling up.

Whilst 23% of people are scared to drive due to exposure to germs because of the outbreak, 14% are still making non essential journeys. Men came out as the worst offenders with almost 1 in 5 (19%) admitting to making non essential journeys, compared to only 8% of women.

Anxieties using petrol stations centre around the fact that many people are using the facilities throughout the day, and this has impacted drivers around the country. 23% are scared to drive due to coronavirus and understandably, this figure rises to 31% for those who sit in the high risk category. When it comes to essential key workers, the findings reveal that 22% are scared they will catch coronavirus from their car.

For those who are still comfortable to make essential trips, there’s been a sharp increase of people washing their hands, as over three quarters of Brits (77%), now wash their hands after driving due to the outbreak, however this should be nearer to 100%, in line with government advice.

It’s not just hands that are being cleaned more often during coronavirus. The number of drivers cleaning the inside of their drivers side door handle more than once per week has increased by 83% since the outbreak, as well as an increase of 78% when it comes to drivers cleaning their steering wheel on a weekly basis.

Some drivers may be cleaning their cars more than usual, but there are certain ‘high-traffic’ areas of cars that are being missed when it comes to our attempt to keep germs away, with some parts being neglected altogether since the coronavirus outbreak, which ultimately could increase the risk of exposure to the virus.

Areas of a car which drivers have not cleaned since the coronavirus outbreak:

Area of car and % of drivers who haven’t cleaned the area since coronavirus outbreak

Seat belt button 25%

Radio dial 24%

Inside of boot 23%

Passenger door handle (inside) 23%

Rear view mirror 22%

Under government guidelines, as a nation, we know it’s important to stay home as much as possible. Fears around using petrol stations and cars peaks with 41% of people too scared to now leave their homes during the pandemic. The highest figures are within the 17-24 age bracket as almost half of them (49%) are fearful of leaving their homes.

Clare Egan, Head of Motor Product at Admiral comments: “The UK is experiencing challenging and unknown times at the moment under lockdown and what once would have been a simple task of going for a drive, filling your car up with fuel, or visiting a relative now comes with its own set of risks and restrictions which is causing worry and distress amongst drivers, as the findings show.

“For many, staying at home and avoiding unnecessary travel is the best way to stay safe, but of course for millions in the UK, this isn’t an option. It’s understandable that people would feel concerned when visiting a petrol station to fill up their car, especially as a key worker or someone taking care of vulnerable people, but following guidelines will reduce the risk to you and to others.

“When filling up at a petrol station ensure you’re using best practice such as:

Washing your hands before driving your car

Using gloves when arriving at the petrol station and when using the pump - some petrol stations are providing these for customers

Removing and disposing of gloves or put carefully away for washing before re-entering your car

Washing your hands as soon as possible after leaving the petrol station

If possible, carry anti-bacterial hand gel and/or disinfectant wipes with you and use regularly