Updated: Reduce Coronavirus transmissions by rolling down car windows

Here’s a scary fact: The amount of Coronavirus particles can build up in your car, even on drives as short as 15 minutes, and the virus can remain in your car’s air for up to three hours. The best way to protect yourself from Coronavirus when driving with others, is to open your car windows while you drive.

This, of course, is a tricky requirement for many safety-conscious drivers. It feels like you need to choose between protecting yourself from being hijacked or robbed by driving with windows closed or protecting yourself from getting Coronavirus by driving with the windows open. The best solution we can think of is to drive with windows open when you’re on the open road, or when there is a reasonable distance between traffic lights and/or stop streets. 

new study published in Science Advances, looked at the airflow patterns inside an automobile and how these patterns influence virus transmission between a driver and a passenger. The authors of the study found that opening the windows to encourage airflow will decrease the chances of viral transmission. (This is no surprise, right?) It’s best to open all windows, but even opening only one window will positively impact airflow.

Another option is to open two windows, one on each side of the car, but preferably NOT the two windows closest to the passenger or the driver. It’s safer to keep the opposite windows open because this allows for better air circulation.

As much as possible, avoid riding in the car with anyone outside of your family, or the people who you share a living space with. This is not so easy in South Africa, where only one-third of the country’s households own a car, and many people rely on lift clubs, taxis and other public transportation to get to work. The most sensible advice in these instances is to wear a mask and try to sanitise your hands before entering and after exiting the vehicle.

For many vehicle owners, their car is a sort of safe haven from the virus – one of the places where you don’t have to wear a mask. With the high risk associated with visiting shopping centres, restaurants and other public areas, many people are rediscovering the joy of going out for a short or long drive. Our advice is to stay close to home and keep your car clean. Read our blog – How can you reduce the risk of Covid-19 in your car.

Stay alert while out on the road. Practice sound defensive driving techniques. Buckle up, put your cell phone down, and observe the speed limit. With our hospitals and emergency services at full capacity, do your best to ensure that you’re not involved in a car accident and that you don’t add to the burden of our strained health systems. As much as possible, stay home and stay safe. 

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