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How to Safely Share a Car During Covid, According to New Research

We’re all doing our best right now to protect ourselves and our families from the covid-19 virus. Practicing good hygiene and appropriate social distancing remains the best way to prevent it, but if you have to share a car, what do you do? Luckily, new research has provided some guidance as to how best we can carshare safely amid the pandemic.

Many of us have to share a car with people outside of our households, whether we take a car service to work, doctor’s appointments, or elsewhere. However, sharing a confined space makes a lot of us worried right now. With this in mind, researchers from Brown University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst set out to determine how we can reduce our risk of contracting the virus if we have to share a car with people we don’t live with.

The researchers performed tests on computer models to determine the likelihood of airborne transmission from one person in a car to another. They conducted several simulations and studied how the air would flow in a car when specific windows were open, when all of the windows were open, and when the windows were closed.

According to their results, there was better air circulation and less exposure to airborne contaminants when the passenger sat in the back of the car away from the driver. Unsurprisingly, having all the windows down was found to be more beneficial than turning on the cars ventilation.

But there was one surprising finding when it came to leaving the windows open. According to Varghese Mathai, PhD, lead author of the study, “If one occupant could potentially infect the other, opening the window next to you might not necessarily be the best option. Instead, open windows that are farthest from you. This may allow for cross-ventilation in the cabin.” That’s because, as Mathai explains, air flows from the back to the front window in a car.

So, if you have to share a car, the best way to protect yourself and encourage proper ventilation is to sit in the backseat on one side of the car with the window closed, and open the window in the back across from you. If possible, you should only be sharing a car with a driver and avoid situations with a packed vehicle. And as always, be sure that you’re wearing a mask and keeping hand sanitizer on you to use after the drive is over.

Let’s all take the proper precautions to stay safe in 2021!

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