Cars are essential parts of people’s livelihoods, and your vehicle may even be your business, so for the vast portion of the population, staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t an option. The whole world is being affected by the epidemic, and currently, the government’s advice is not to leave your house if you think you’re at risk. While we may be anxious about leaving our homes, and despite the constant, overwhelming advice to just ‘stay at home’, it doesn’t look like there is any other option than to use our cars as methods of transport. Coronavirus has been described as the most significant public health challenge of a generation and the greatest societal challenge since the last World War, so, what should we do?
Firstly, limit your contact with other people. If it’s not essential contact, avoid it. Travelling by car during this pandemic is a better option than taking public transport, so if you own a vehicle, it may be advisable to make that your primary mode of transportation for the foreseeable future. And, while a silent commute to work may not be your first choice, ridesharing is not the best idea and driving alone should be prioritised. While a car may be seen as a mobile isolation unit, it is not risk-free, and should only be used on necessary journeys like shopping for food or medicine and travelling to work if you cannot work from home.
If you must share a vehicle, ensure your passenger isn’t sick first. Common sense, right? It is understandable to want to look after others, or you may even need to transport someone for your job, but during the current climate, it is essential to put your health first. Make sure that your passenger does not have any acute symptoms, such as a high fever or dry cough, and think about using a facemask or a respirator if you are often travelling with other people. If you are ridesharing, opening the door for your passenger is good practice as the door handle is one less place they can leave a bug behind.
To expand on the advice, follow proper hygiene measures and ensure that all surfaces are thoroughly disinfected, before and after a journey, especially if you’re sharing the car with someone. The current advice is to use isopropyl alcohol and a micro-fibre cloth. Whatever you do, do not use hydrogen peroxide or bleach on the interior of your car as it will likely damage the upholstery. Using products containing ammonium on the interior touch screens can also damage their anti-glare and anti-fingerprint coatings, so this is not advisable either. And, while using alcohol on your leather interior is safe, over time, it may cause discolouration, so we recommend using soap and water to clean this material instead.
Places that we advise spending special care sterilising in the interior are:
This is especially important for those who spend a lot of time in their car, or transport passengers often, such as taxi drivers.
Remember to also thoroughly clean the exterior, and play special attention to door handles, the boot handle and parts of the car, such as the door frame, that may also have been in contact with someone who may be carrying the virus.
For a general rule, facemasks protect your passengers and respirators protect you. The advice so far is that while facemasks will not stop you from contracting the virus, they may reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. If you have a cough or other symptoms of COVID-19, even a basic cloth facemask will show consideration towards others, and help reduce the risk of spreading the infection. For protection, it has been advised that you would need a respirator of FFP3 class at least, although this may be difficult for the everyday population to get. Many motorists may not realise, that a lot of basic first-aid kits will contain a facemask – it was even a legal requirement for first-aid kits to include a facemask in some European countries at one point in time.
It is not yet known how prevalent COVID-19 is in the air. Still, in general, it is known that viruses can propagate through air conditioning systems, and the filters fitted aren’t always capable of catching the infection before it makes its way into the cabin of the car. Different filters can get installed, but they usually do not come as standard and may be expensive, so deep cleaning the air-conditioning unit is advised.
For most people, travelling by car means that you will also have to visit a petrol station sooner or later. Expressing general hygiene here is important too, and minimising contact with staff and other customers is our advice. If it is possible to visit a self-service station, it may be a good idea to go there instead. After filling up your car, disinfect your hands and anywhere that may have come into contact with the public pumps, and look into using modern forms of payment as well; this includes contactless payments, via your contactless card, phone or smartwatch. Keep an eye on your fuel, and make sure you always have enough to cover the next week of travel, if possible. There may be delays with production or transportation of certain goods, so ensure that you are always prepared, but do not stockpile any resources and be inconsiderate of the rest of the population.
The more we respect these measures, the better we get at reducing our risk of the infection spreading, and the sooner we can return to our normal lives.
To sum up our advice, Jana Parmová, the chief physician at ŠKODA, has said: “Ideally, avoid going anywhere unless it is important. If you have to go somewhere, go alone, and don’t share the car with anyone. If you have to go with someone, make sure that the person does not have acute symptoms of respiratory illness. Make sure you have the contact details of all the other passengers so that you can track them down if you find out you’re infected.”
If you’re worried about how COVID-19 may affect your Motorline experience, or curious about the steps we are taking as a business to avoid spreading the virus further, learn more below.