Precautions for carpooling during COVID-19


Carpooling is a term used to describe informal agreements for getting commuters to work or students to school, university, and extracurricular activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission hazards in shared vehicles have eclipsed the economic savings and environmental benefits of carpooling (e.g., decreased emissions, less traffic congestion). The risk of transmission is medium to high while traveling in a car with numerous persons, not from the same household, especially regularly. Check out for your carpooling needs. 

Risks of COVID-19 transmission and carpooling

Time spent in confined sections of cars with persons not from the same household is thought to be linked to the transmission hazards connected with carpooling. When these people breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze, they emit respiratory droplets with diameters ranging in various sizes. Larger droplets may carry higher virus loads and fall to the ground more quickly than tiny droplets. In contrast, smaller aerosols may remain suspended in the air, where they can be ingested.

Aerosol transmission can be reduced by using natural ventilation. In healthcare settings, opening windows and doors can reduce pathogen concentrations. Opening the windows even by three inches can prevent virus-laden particles from collecting.

Four open windows were related with the most air exchange. With four open windows, the passenger’s air space was largely separated from the driver’s. Because most air entered through the rear windows and exited through the front windows without switching sides, separate flows on the right and left, sides of the cabin were generated.

The risk of close contact and exposure increases as the number of passengers in the car grows if the participants shift from ride to ride, the likelihood of transmission increases.

Carpoolers should follow public health advice.

The advice about carpooling is a little erratic. Carpooling is discouraged in some countries, while it is considered unsafe in others. Some public health decrees have prohibited carpooling.

It is common practice to restrain the participant’s number to two (driver and passenger). Several documents geared at school carpools advocate matching children in a carpool to their school’s learning group rather than specifying the number of riders. Another typical piece of advice is that the carpool’s makeup remains consistent, with the same persons participating in each trip.

Opening at least two windows 4-5 inches or more to let fresh air from outside replace potentially contaminated air inside the car is the most typical recommendation. Some materials also mention avoiding mechanical air recirculation.

Activities that could expose people to more respiratory emissions should be avoided (e.g., speaking, eating, drinking). It is commonly agreed that masks should be worn. Sneezing or coughing into one’s inner elbow is a common respiratory etiquette recommendation. 

Hand hygiene guidelines are prevalent in cleaning and disinfection processes. Cleaning and disinfecting protocols for the vehicle’s interior, particularly high-touch surfaces, are frequently provided. Some materials propose specific cleaners and certified disinfectants.

Other considerations that may arise in guidance materials include having participants complete a COVID-19 health self-assessment before trips and determining whether a group ride is necessary.