Car sharing on the rise in UK: Minimise the ‘journey of the germ’ with these tips

With ongoing lockdown restrictions on national and regional levels, more people are opting to share travel journeys by private vehicle. In fact, our latest research reveals that almost all UK motorists (97%) believe that private vehicles are safer than public transport, however more than a third (37%) of drivers admitted that they do not personally take any COVID precautions for these journeys.

Over half (58%) of those surveyed revealed that they carry passengers from outside their household bubble in their vehicle. And despite over two-thirds (69%) believing that wearing a face covering is an important safety precaution when ride sharing, almost half (47%) of surveyed drivers do not ask their passengers to take any safety precautions. Interesting, as the overwhelming majority (80%) of passengers admitted that they would feel safer if clear COVID precautions were established by the driver.

Our research also found that only a minority of drivers (9%) are asking their passengers to keep their windows open to circulate fresh air – an essential car sharing precaution according to health experts. Unsurprising as only one in six (16%) said that they felt well-informed with COVID precautions surrounding their vehicles.

Commenting on the findings, chartered environmental health practitioner Dr Lisa Ackerley said: “It’s great that drivers are trying to take precautions against Coronavirus, and sanitising your hands at key moments is always good practice. However, when it comes to this particular virus, people need to be better educated about the journey of the germ – that’s how the virus spreads from person to person.

“With a respiratory infection, the most likely primary cause of transmission is aerosol or droplet particles in the air passing from one person to another via the nose and mouth as well as being picked up by hands and transferred to the eyes, nose or mouth. In an enclosed space like a private car, the lack of distance means that additional precautions are needed to reduce the risks.”

To keep motorists safe and to avoid any awkward disagreements, we recommend that drivers ask each of their passengers to agree to a COVID car contract: six simple steps that they must follow if accepting a ride in your car, something that Dr Ackerley agrees wholeheartedly with.

Another fundamental aspect of a safe car share journey is having the correct insurance cover. Tempcover CEO Alan Inskip said: “In addition to being one of the safest means of transport during the COVID-19 pandemic, car sharing is also a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way for people to travel but many motorists may be driving other people’s vehicles thinking that they have sufficient cover with their annual insurance policy, when in fact they may not. This is where temporary car insurance adds tremendous value, as comprehensive cover can be taken out for as little as one hour all the way up to 28-days, without impacting either drivers’ no-claims bonus.”

*Our research is based on a survey of 2,016 British respondents aged 18+ (who hold a full or provisional drivers licence), carried out from 6 to 7 October 2020.