- Written by Laura Adams Laura Adams
As the world continues hunkering down to ride out the coronavirus crisis, some of us still need to venture out, even if it is just to do a quick grocery run.
When you do go out, follow these driving-safety tips to stay safe on the roads and minimize your risk of picking up the virus.
Disinfect Your Vehicle
Your hands touch a lot of things every day, and any germs you and your passengers pick up get transferred to your car.
According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a car’s steering wheel has four times more bacteria than a toilet seat. That’s because most people clean their toilets more regularly than they clean their cars.
The study found that only 32% of car owners regularly clean and sanitize their cars.
Disinfectants that contain at least 70% alcohol are effective in killing coronavirus.
Wipe surfaces like door handles, the dashboard, steering wheel, gear selector, signal lever, electric window buttons, stereo buttons, infotainment displays, armrests, AC controls and vents, cupholders, and the glove compartment.
Avoid using chemicals like bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia-based products as these will damage your car’s interior.
Can’t Find Sanitizer and Wipes?
But what if you can’t find sanitizer and wipes at the grocery store, or you’re on a shipping waiting list? That’s has been a problem for so many consumers these days.
Helen Boehm Johnson, M.D., physician and consultant in the infection-prevention and control field, recommends using microfiber cloths to clean your vehicle.
“Their split-fiber design creates a larger surface area for microbe removal,” Johnson said. “Plus, the net-positive charge generated when they’re used attracts negatively charged dirt and microorganisms.”
Practice Safe Driving
In these uncertain times, panic buying has set in. In desperation to stockpile supplies, people may drive too fast or allow road rage to set in as they rush to the stores. First, don’t panic buy. Clearing out supermarket stock disrupts and places strain on the supply chain.
Second, if and when you do need to go to the store, to an appointment, or to a drive-thru testing center, don’t be anxious. Anxiety will only lead to driving errors and increase your risk of a car accident. Stay calm and continue to practice safe driving. Remain alert, don’t drink and drive, and don’t drive distracted.
If you’re ill — even if it’s just the common cold — stay home. Certain medications can cause drowsiness and impair your driving ability. Plus, being ill lowers your immune system, making you more susceptible to a more serious infection like coronavirus.
Be Cautious in Parking Lots
Did you know that 1 in 5 car accidents happen in parking lots? This is largely attributed to distracted driving. In a poll by the National Safety Council, 66% of drivers said they would make phone calls and 56% said they would text while driving through parking lots.
Mental distractions, like being preoccupied with the stress of a global pandemic, can also take your attention away from potential hazards. Parking lots have pedestrians and cars pulling in and backing out, so keep your guard up when driving in parking lots.
Minimize Your Risk on a Road Trip
International travel bans are in place around the world. However, in the U.S. you can travel by car, although shorter trips are advisable. If, however, a long-distance road trip is unavoidable, take the following precautions:
• Only use public restrooms when absolutely necessary and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
• Keep hand sanitizers in your car and use them after every interaction in shops, restaurants, or drive-thrus.
• Pack your own eats rather than stopping at restaurants.
• Sanitize your hands after using the fuel pump at gas stations.
• If you need to stay at a hotel, disinfect the surfaces in your room and stay in your room to avoid contact with hotel guests and staff.
Laura Adams is a driving and education safety expert from online driver’s education provider Aceable (www.aceable.com).