Should You Wear a Mask While Driving?
During these crazy times, it’s normal to pass someone on the road wearing a mask while driving. We all understand the importance of wearing masks in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but is wearing a mask while driving the same case? Even more, is wearing a mask while driving safe?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend wearing masks while driving, particularly if driving alone, stating it’s helpful to wear one “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain”. When driving on the road you should already be six feet apart from the surrounding cars, so wearing a mask while driving alone is not necessary.
However, there are certain instances when wearing a mask while driving is appropriate. For example:
- If you’re in the car with people who do not reside with you
- If you’re sick and have other people in the car
- If you are riding in an Uber/Lyft
- If you feel anxious about being out in public right now and keeping a mask on comforts you
- If you’re traveling a short distance between stops and don’t want to take the mask off only to have to put it back on again immediately
A 2016 study on the impact of wearing respirator masks while carrying out a task revealed that they produced negative effects on a person’s work performance. However, the study accounted for certain factors, including the length of time the person wore the mask while performing tasks, and the level of physical and mental activity required to complete the task. According to the study, the decrease of vision due to wearing a mask does not have any effect on the ability to complete the task. It does, however, affect the ability to recognize dangers coming from multiple directions.
Wearing a face mask is an important step in preventing the spread of the virus, and should be a step in everyone’s routine when getting ready to head out in public. With that said, wearing a mask in the car when driving alone is not a safety measure you need to take. Make sure you are storing your mask in a sanitized place while driving, and just be ready to put it on when arriving at your destination.
Tips for easy breathing while wearing a mask:
- Check the fit of the mask. You may need to loosen up the bottom part of the mask, making a tunnel between the mask and your chin where air can escape.
- Choose masks that can be shaped around your nose—they should have a wire there to adjust the fit.
- Use a mask only when necessary—when in areas where you can’t social distance, or in areas of significant community-based transmission of COVID-19.
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