Reducing the risk of Coronavirus when riding in a car: Measures drivers and passengers can take to reduce potential infection of COVID-19 when in a vehicle.
With vaccine and other anti-covid programs continuing apace, the danger from Covid infection may have come down somewhat, but it is far from over. There is still plenty of small things that each of us can do to help bring down the risk of infection in our homes, in our places of work, and in public.
One of the most basic recommendations that has been known to have quite a significant effect on improving local safety to the virus is the simple act of opening a window. The virus is known to be airborne and having a window open is one of the best ways to make sure that enclosed spaces do not become effective harbors for a higher concentration of the virus than is seen elsewhere. In other words, fresh air is your friend.
One area that features in most people’s everyday life is the interior of their car. This naturally counts as one such enclosed space that can be particularly perilous for infection if the virus is present. Naturally, you can open a window here too, but that alone is far from a fool-proof strategy for bringing down the risk of infection inside your car.
Luckily, the risk of infection onboard a vehicle has not gone unnoticed, and there is a good body of advice to help you reduce the Covid risk when on the road. Many of us find ourselves onboard vehicles almost on a daily basis, and with lockdown measures now (hopefully) subsided for good, many of us are finding ourselves back in our vehicle and travelling places, often with others on board.
The danger therefore is real, but there is lots you can do to significantly reduce the risk of infection on board a vehicle. But remember that not all vehicle situations are alike – simply because people use cars in very different ways. For example, you could be a solo traveler making a commute to work every day, or you have children to drop off and pick up to/from school. You could also be responsible for transporting an elderly person to daily engagements, or you could even take part in a car pool program or use a rented or ride-share vehicle. In these cases, the danger, without a proper hygiene program, could be considerably higher.
Good Car Hygiene Habits
The good news is that you do not need to carry any expensive or complicated hygiene equipment in your vehicle. You can still keep plenty of room for metal snow shovels for the car or the bike that you like to keep in the boot. Rather, it is a series of good habits and quick disinfection routines that can considerably reduce the risk of travelling in a vehicle in the midst of a pandemic. And because we all use cars in the different ways, there are a few specific tips for different kinds of car use as well. But let us begin with the most general:
Wash Your Hands
Driving is quite literally a “hands-on” experience. Until the driverless car comes along, the driver of a vehicle is inevitably going to be touching many things across the interior of a car, from the door handle to the dashboard, the indicator switches and, of course, the steering wheel. The simplest form of disease control – washing your hands – is therefore extra important where vehicles are concerned. As a rule of thumb (no pun intended) be sure to wash your hands before and after using your car, according to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Simple as that.
Have the Tools to Hand
As mentioned, you will not need to be filling your car with any expensive equipment in order to deal with the coronavirus on board your vehicle, but it is incredibly wise to have a few useful hygiene products to hand for use each time you get in. Get a hold of an EPA-registered household disinfectant and some gloves. That should be all you need to effectively wipe down the interior of your vehicle and kill the virus if it exists on any external surface. A good move is to keep some disposable wipes onboard your vehicle and also have a box of disposable gloves set aside for only covid-disinfection purposes.
Focus on the Touchpoints
Nobody is suggesting you give your car a deep clean every time you use it. In fact, this would be pretty much impossible. One of the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic is that we have to accept that we can never be 100% sure we have completely disinfected any space.
What we can do, however, is focus on the parts of the interior of your car that we regularly come into contact with. These touchpoints include the door handle, the key fob, the steering wheel, and the dashboard. This latter touchpoint is perhaps the one that has the biggest potential to harbor viruses – and, unfortunately, it may also be the most difficult to effectively clean.
Nevertheless, you should give it a general wipe down after you have finished using the car for the day. That will go a long way to reducing your risk. You do not have to worry so much about the outside of the car. Exposure to the elements here will significantly shorten the lifespan of the virus if it lands upon these surfaces.
Rentals, Ride Sharing, and Taxis
One thing that might pose a slightly higher infection risk than the use of your own vehicle is using a car that has been driven by others too. We are talking here about rental cars, ride sharing, and taxis. The first of these might pose the least risk. A number of rental companies are now taking extra measures to clean their cars thoroughly after each use, and they have the professional resources to do this more effectively than you ever could. And even companies such as Uber and Lyft have pledged to suspend the accounts of drivers if they report any signs of feeling unwell. This latter technique might go some way to limiting infections, but you should be aware that ride-sharing vehicles and taxis will have come into contact with several people over the course of the day.
In order to give yourself the best protection possible, then, it is recommended that you carry a personal hand sanitizer for use upon entering any of these vehicles and that you also remember to wear a mask when on board. The coronavirus pandemic may be far from over, but it is simple tips like these that can make ordinary motoring life possible once again.