The advent of the Coronavirus has disrupted all our lives. Daily restrictions mean sacrifices from us all, and for most of us, mean staying at home much more than we're used to. This also means a limitation in driving. However, for some, car travel is still a necessity—whether it be short trips to and from work, or a longer, necessary road trip.
There are a lot of questions surrounding what is considered safe car travel in the time of the Coronavirus. At Stewart's Donnybrook Automotive, we usually stress the importance of car maintenance, oil changes, good wiper blades, and other important routine car care to keep you safely on the road, but we understand the importance of being proactive in other ways to help keep you safe. We have put together a comprehensive look at ways to keep yourself and others safe while traveling. We want our customers in Tyler and throughout east Texas to travel safely!
Research Ahead of Time
So much of traveling safely in the time of the Coronavirus is dependent on planning ahead. Whether you're doing a daily commute or planning a longer road trip, it's important to do research.
Here are some things to check:
- Research your state's rules concerning their Coronavirus emergency procedures. Each state has different rules and guidelines in place. It's important for your safety and the safety of others that you know what they are. If you're crossing state borders this is particularly crucial.
- Look into the different definitions, state by state, of guidelines/rules such as shelter in place, isolation, social distancing, etc.
- Before you go, do your research and calculate the risk. It's important to weigh all the factors and decide whether the trip is worth it.
- Calculate how many stops you will have to make and the amount of contact it will be necessary to have with others. From there, you can decide whether it's worth the risk to yourself and others.
- Where will you refuel?
- Use the bathroom?
- Get food?
- Spend the night if necessary?
These are crucial steps to plan because many places have shut down. Especially if it's necessary to spend the night somewhere, check ahead to see what hotels/motels are open and what their restrictions are.
If you have to travel, there's a chance of getting sick while on the road. Research ahead of time the closest medical facilities. Make sure to pack your necessary medical paperwork.
Look ahead and see if there are travel advisories and closures in the areas you'll be traveling through.
You also must weigh the risks of getting into an accident, having an emergency, or getting a flat tire while on the road. You can obtain important travel information at the Federal Highway Administration website.
Whether on a long or short distance trip, it's important to have your car stocked with extra food, water, and essentials in case they aren't available.
Pack safety quarantine essentials such as: a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant.
One upside: traffic will be light!
Vehicle Safety: Make sure your vehicle is prepped and packed for any emergency.
Things to pack:
- Numbers for roadside assistance
- An emergency kit complete with safety flare, tire jack, and jumper cables
- Make sure your general car maintenance is up to date, including new wiper blades and an oil change.
Disinfecting Your Vehicle, Inside and Out: It's essential to thoroughly clean your car before and after the trip. Especially if you make stops during your travels, cleaning your car before and after helps alleviate being a carrier. Here is a list of things you should disinfect:
- Door handles—make sure you get both the inside and outside, and the surface needs to remain wet for at least four minutes to kill germs thoroughly
- Elbow rest
- Steering wheel—make sure to get all the way around
- Gearstick or shifter
- Emergency Brake
- Radio panel and controls
- The entire steering column
- Seat adjuster handles
- Along the edges of the door frame where we sometimes touch
- Don't forget to disinfect your computer and smartphone!
- Rubbing alcohol works on upholstery, but be careful not to use too much or let it soak in; otherwise, you risk damaging the material.
- Clean AC Unit/Vents
- All handles, including trunk
- Along the door frames
(Be careful to use products that won't damage the car's paint. Hydrogen peroxide, for example, can cause damage and should be avoided for cleaning a vehicle's exterior surfaces.)
Other Tips for Safe Car Travel:
- Use the same rules you would at home—practice social distancing everywhere. Try to keep at six feet between you and another person. When it comes to travel, the United States is now under a Level 4 advisory, which means a "greater likelihood of life-threatening risks." It's essential to gauge whether the risks—to yourself and others—are worth the trip.
- Have as little contact with others as possible, whether that's at a gas station, fast food restaurant, or hotel. Most fast food places are doing drive-through only, and only accept credit cards
- If you have a passenger, especially if you're picking someone up, both people should wear masks. If at all possible, only visit self-service gas stations where you can pay with a card or online. If you must use a public restroom or regular gas pump, make sure you wash or disinfect your hands immediately. Using gloves and discarding them immediately can help too.
The rapid onset of restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak has individuals and governments at all levels scrambling to find ways to be safe. While most places have rules in place to ensure everyone stays in their homes, car travel is still necessary in certain instances.
Before traveling, weigh whether your time in the car is actually "essential", and what the impact of your trip could be. Preventative measures and planning can make a significant difference. From all of us at Stewart's Donnybrook Automotive, please stay healthy, plan ahead, and stay safe!