In a recent post on our blog, we gave out some tips to drivers who are, out of necessity, still on the roads during the COVID-19 lockdown. Those tips included cleaning and disinfecting vehicle hot spots and keeping hand sanitizer and other supplies on hand in your vehicle, all good advice that will help continue to keep you safe throughout this crisis. But for many, there is still some confusion around the role that your vehicle can play in keeping you safe from, or in danger of, COVID-19.
This is understandable. As the medical community continues to grapple with this health emergency and learn more about the virus, a lot of things remain unclear. At the same time, misinformation about the virus has been widely spread.
In an article for The Globe and Mail, Jason Tchir talked to a virologist at the University of Alberta in order to get some answers to the questions that people have been asking about driving during COVID, questions like - "What are the risks of getting the coronavirus while driving? Is it safe to drive with the windows down?"
The answers to these questions and others are very illuminating and may help clear up some lingering questions you, and others, may have when it comes to getting behind the wheel during this pandemic.
For one thing, Dr. Evans, the doctor interviewed for the piece, says that, unless you're traveling with someone else in the vehicle, wearing a mask isn't necessary (although there is no harm in wearing a mask, especially as a way of training yourself to stop touching your face).
As far as traveling in a vehicle with multiple people, it's not recommended, although if you do have a passenger with you while driving, it should only be someone that you currently live with (and are therefore quarantining with).
"If you need take someone with you on an essential trip - for instance, if you're taking a parent to a doctor - err on the side of caution."
However, just because you are traveling alone doesn't mean you should throw all caution to the wind. You can still come into contact with the virus on the way to and from your vehicle and on other external surfaces you encounter at places like gas stations. That's why, even if you don't need to wear a mask when traveling in your vehicle alone, it's still imperative that you wipe down hot spots in and on your vehicle and wash and sanitize your hands thoroughly both before, after, and if possible during, your trip.
As far as driving down the road with your window down, you should be fine. The COVID-19 virus is not an airborne virus. While mucus droplets can transmit the disease, keeping space between you and others should prevent you from inhaling those droplets, and any other particles in the air are likely too few and will dissipate too quickly to get you sick.
For more on The Globe and Mail's interview with Dr. Evans, check out the original article.