Auto Lease Compare runs through the checks drivers should make before getting back behind the wheel

Easing the lockdown means more opportunity to drive, so it's vital to ensure your vehicle is legal and roadworthy.

With the government advising against public transport (see more government advice here), driving in a self-contained car is much more sensible - providing it's well safe and prepped. 

The AA had 40% more breakdown calls (mostly for flat batteries) when some measures were relaxed last week.

Lockdown vehicle use has been restricted to shopping for essentials, attending medical appointments, making short trips to exercise, assisting an elderly or vulnerable person, or getting to and from work where appropriate.

But since Wednesday those in England can now travel much farther afield for 'unlimited outdoor exercise' as well as make day trips to beaches or picnic in parks. Government instructions say: 'You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance... Day trips to outdoor spaces, in private vehicles, are permitted'. 

Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are still in lockdown so English motorists can be fined if they cross borders, and vice versa.

So how best to prepare?

Make sure your vehicle is taxed and insured. If it's off the public highway and you declared so with a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), inform the DVLA it's going back on the road before you drive.

MoT tests due from March 30 have been extended by six months, so you will be exempt, but tell your insurer. Even without an MoT the car must be roadworthy, otherwise you could invalidate your insurance and risk fines, penalty points or even, in the event of serious accident, prison.

Highways England lists five key checks:

Tyre tread

·       It is a legal requirement that each of your tyres has a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. Driving without the legally required amount of tread can adversely affect your grip, braking distance and steering.

·       If you are stopped by the police and found with illegal tyres, you could receive a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre.

Tyre pressure

·       Driving with underinflated or overinflated tyres can adversely affect your braking distance, steering, fuel efficiency and the lifetime of your tyres.

Fuel level

·       In 2015, there were more than 7,000 breakdown incidents due to vehicles running out of fuel.

·       Always keep your tank at least one-quarter full to avoid running out on your journey.

·       You can be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice in some locations if your breakdown was foreseeable, such as running out of fuel.

Oil level

·       Maintaining the correct oil level is essential as the oil lubricates, cleans, cools and protects the moving parts of your engine, preventing your engine from seizing up and breaking down.

Water level

·       To ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screen wash topped up so you can clear any debris or dirt off your windscreen.

Lights

·       Your lights are not only essential for you, they are also essential for other drivers to understand how you are driving your vehicle and how you intend to manoeuvre.

Source: think.gov.uk