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There’s no hiding from the stark reality about this global pandemic. Everyone is aware of the transmission risks and the necessity to safeguard oneself from the virus. Despite quarantine measures, many New York and New Jersey residents are considered “essential” workers who must travel to and from their place of employment every day, whether that’s by personal vehicle, rideshare, taxi, or train. The car accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman would like to share some tips if you must be on the road during this challenging time.

How to Keep Your Vehicle Coronavirus-Free

If you’re commuting to work in your car and occasionally running errands with others in tow, you can protect the health of yourself and your passengers by taking these steps:

  • Wash your hands before and after getting into the car. At the very least, use 60% alcohol hand sanitizer. This will limit the possibility of transferring germs that may be on your hands onto the vehicle surfaces.
  • Wipe down the surfaces. As best we can tell, the virus can live on cloth for about two days, and hard surfaces for up to nine days. Use Clorox, Lysol, or one of these EPA-registered household cleaners daily. Pay special attention to the steering wheel, shifter, door handles, seat belts, and touch screens.  
  • Disinfect your HVAC. The HVAC unit circulates air into the cabin and can carry a number of viruses. Spray the cabin filter located behind the glove compartment with disinfectant. You can also ask a detailer for an Ozone treatment and steam cleaning to minimize microbes. Air filters should be changed at the auto shop every 15,000 to 20,000 miles, so consider doing so if you’re due.
  • Fuel up thoughtfully. Try to limit the amount of times you need to visit the gas station, as each trip carries risk. Fill your tank up 100%, ideally at an off-peak time. Pay at the pump with credit or debit if possible. Use gloves or paper towels to avoid touching the germ-laden gas pump handle directly. Use hand-sanitizer when you’re done to be on the safe side. 

How to Stay Safe If You’re Ride-Sharing

If you’re getting into a taxi or ridesharing pickup vehicle, the following measures are recommended:

  • Wear a mask. The CDC may recommend that everyone wear face masks very shortly. In fact, it has helped slow the spread in places like South Korea. Since coronavirus particles can live in the air for up to three hours, there’s no way of knowing if someone might have had the virus in that shared air space before you. If you don’t have a mask, you can make one without any sewing required. A plain fabric facemask can reduce the risk of a sick person infecting others with cough or sneeze particles. Ideally, you’d have a respirator of FFP3 class or higher to truly protect yourself, but those are hard to come by.
  • Avoid risky maneuvers. Contact with COVID-19 is only dangerous if the germs find a way into your body – most commonly through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Avoid eating or drinking in the vehicle, putting on Chapstick, opening a stick of gum, or otherwise touching your face for any reason.
  • Sit behind the driver, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. “By sitting behind the driver, you’re more likely to be shielded from drops of the virus that could spread through coughing, sneezing or breathing,” states The Sun. If you’re anxious about your ride, you might ask the driver what sort of extra precautions are being taken to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Will Coronavirus Become a Liability Issue?

Lawsuits have already been filed against Uber and Lyft for refusing to provide state-mandated sick leave, which essentially forces sick workers to drive or risk losing access to their livelihood.

If you or a loved one tested positive for coronavirus potentially due to another person’s negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct, contact KGG Law for help. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and burial/funeral costs in the worst-case scenarios. Consultations with a personal injury lawyer at our firm are always free and it costs you nothing upfront to pursue a lawsuit.   

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