In recent years, cities have been getting crowded. The cost of living has gone steadily up while competing for a decent salary is stiffer than ever. With ride-sharing emerging as an alternative, younger generations had considered car ownership to be optional.
But with the threat of infectious disease looming large on our minds, using shared or public transportation doesn’t seem so attractive. Given a choice, would you rather get on a crowded city bus, hop into a car with someone you don’t know, or drive your way through the daily traffic?
Owning and driving a car are both familiar and safe. But today’s drivers also have to make adjustments in light of the pandemic. Beyond the regular maintenance and occasional servicing by a diesel repair specialist, you have to consider a different approach to operating your vehicle.
It’s easy to get confused when it comes to the safety measures we need to observe to contain the pandemic. There’s a lot of misleading information on the internet. Yet even health organizations and local authorities can have conflicting stances on this issue.
Someone living in another country or state might follow a different set of safety practices from your own. But keep in mind that scientists are still in the process of studying and understanding the coronavirus, even after many months since the outbreak. Meanwhile, governments have to balance the need for safety with maintaining economic activity. Small wonder, then, that there are discrepancies across regions.
What do we know about the transmission of Covid-19? It can be airborne or through contact. The nature of airborne infection can be through respiratory droplets or aerosols. It’s invisible, not only in terms of the virus itself but the fact that asymptomatic persons can carry and transmit it.
Rethinking risk management
Thus, even though the precise mechanics of transmission have yet to be determined, we can apply them to the way we operate our vehicles. That involves changing our approach towards risk.
When you drive, safety comes from many levels of risk reduction beyond built-in airbags. You fasten your seat belt and stay well under the speed limit to reduce the impact of a potential collision. And you avoid driving while drunk, sleep-deprived, or distracted.
Even so, the risk of accidents on the road is non-zero. Yet no one questions that extra layers of precaution are a good idea for drivers. In the same way, it’s better to go above and beyond the minimum requirements when it comes to playing safe against Covid-19.
Working with layers of safety
Your behavior is entirely under your control. If you can ensure that you are the sole occupant of the car at all times, the risk of infection will be significantly lowered. But you’ll still have to practice hand hygiene and surface disinfection. While you probably weren’t going to skip cleaning your car in any case, it’s vital to avoid touching your eyes, nostrils, or mouth shortly after being in contact with potentially infected surfaces.
You’ll probably be getting out of the car at some point, and your hands will touch other surfaces. From gas pumps or door handles and elevator buttons, you could be in contact with objects that contain virus particles. And those particles can spread from you to various points of contact inside your car. Similarly, particles can get deposited onto the exterior surface of your vehicle.
Taking on passengers should be avoided for safety reasons, but if that’s not possible, then further layers of protection will reduce the risk. Many taxi companies and ride-sharing services have issued plastic partitions to their drivers, reducing the odds of transmission. Make sure that everyone inside the car is wearing securely-fitted face masks at all times, and avoids talking, singing, or yelling.
Ventilation systems are also critical to reducing indoor transmission. Most HVAC systems use a lot of recirculated air for efficiency. Roll down the windows if you’re driving an outdoor space, or increase the air intake. This reduces the recirculation inside your vehicle. Bringing a HEPA filter onboard will also help remove virus particles from the air.
Another way to lower the chances of infection when you have to accommodate passengers is to reduce the duration of your trips. If you can limit shared rides to 15 minutes or less, you’ll have less exposure.
The car has become more attractive now as a safe, private space. But that safety is relative. Apply as many layers of protection as possible to lower the risks of coronavirus transmission within your vehicle.
The post To Drive Safely in the New Reality, Add Multiple Layers of Protection from Disease Transmission appeared first on The Mechanic Doctor.