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How Safe is Driving a Rental During COVID?

Girl holding out car keys towards camera
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

We've spoken previously on this blog about how vulnerable you are to infection when driving your car during COVID-19, and the consensus is, with the right precautions, you are perfectly safe. But what about driving a rental car? What is the risk of infection when the car you're driving isn't yours?

Business Insider set out to answer this very question, and to do so they spoke to various experts, both doctors and those who work in the car rental industry. As Alesandra Dubin, Business Insider's reporter, points out, many are looking toward a summer where alternative vacation plans will need to be made, like car travel as opposed to air travel for long distance trips, and car rentals for those in cities and elsewhere who don't have vehicles of their own. So, are car rentals safe during a pandemic?

It's important to remember that, in this new environment, precaution are always necessary. There are a few things that, regardless of the context, you should always be doing to keep yourself protected, including washing your hands and wearing a mask. Should you be doing those things, Dubin found when speaking to experts that car rentals are really not a threat to your health.

"First, consider the most likely way the novel coronavirus can be transmitted, which is directly from person to person, and then apply that logic to renting a car, in which you and others in your party are the only passengers."

Dr. Russo, a specialist in infectious disease interviewed for this piece, said that the greatest risk that comes from driving in a rental car is not that posed by the vehicle itself but by those you are traveling with. If traveling with someone who you have not been quarantined with, then they could transmit the virus to you. But if you are taking proper precautions, like traveling only with those who you have been in close contact with, then you are at no great risk.

But how thoroughly are vehicles sanitized between customers? Dubin spoke to car rental industry professionals to find out what new measures are being taken to ensure that vehicles are being safely prepped for use. When she spoke to Enterprise, she found that those measures were exhaustive and vigorous:

"On top of vacuuming and general wipe-down cleaning, the company is sanitizing key areas with disinfectant between every rental including the key and key fob, center console, cupholders and compartments, seat surfaces and pockets, areas between the seat and console and seat and doorjambs, the dashboard, instrument panels, steering wheel and column, accessory panel, door interiors and pockets, all interior and exterior door handles, mirrors, and other high-touch areas."

For those who would like extra assurance, Dubin and the experts interviewed recommends asking the rental car company for details on their cleaning procedures as well as what the time interval is between customers.

However, the overall consensus by experts remains that driving a rental car is perfectly safe during COVID. It's great to see the car rental industry step up and take be proactive when it comes to ensuring the safety of their customers.

For more, read the original article by Alesandra Dubin in Business Insider.

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