Steve Wallace: Clean car essential in days of virus

Now, more than ever, it is most important to have a clean car. The arrival of the novel coronavirus has heightened everyone’s awareness and adherence to the need to not only have a vehicle cleaning regimen, but also a timely one. Most transportation companies and some individuals would commonly detail their vehicles upon the change of season. Not anymore.

It is common practice, or it certainly should be, to disinfect every vehicle, every time there is a multi-driver and passenger reality. People in the passenger-transportation business have known this for many years. The practice should be mandatory. Ambulance drivers and attendants have been leading the way in this regard for many decades. Emulating their behaviour now could very well be a matter of life and death, given our collective societal responsibility, and the possible virus presence.

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Certain businesses will have several people drive a single vehicle in a day. Here is a protocol that every such enterprise should follow.

Wipe every surface that could possibly contact a person using the vehicle. There are recommended cleaning agents. The Ministry of Health has noted many acceptable products.

Start with the external components. The key or fob, door handle, hood and trunk release and any other external item that could be touched, should be cleaned.

The internal vehicle controls are more numerous. Because many of our actions behind the wheel have become habit, we often take them for granted. The number of items needing a wipe down is more extensive than one would first think.

The steering wheel is the most obvious control to be touched constantly. It is only necessary to use a light touch when cleaning such a surface. Scrubbing the wheel can cause damage to the manufactured surface. This is the case for other smooth surfaces as well. Door latches or handles, both internal and external, are easy to note, as are signals, horn, lights, seatbelts and seat adjustments, mirrors, e-brake, locks, windows, headrests, wheel setting, compartments and any other dash items. This includes the GPS screen, which has replaced the old-style radio-control knobs.

The above list seems extensive, and it is easy to forget items such as the sun visors and roofs. A quick visual scan of the inside of any vehicle should be a reminder of any forgotten item or control.

It has always been important for those transporting others to follow simple guidelines of cleanliness. Today, given our present reality, it is even more important.

Some might believe these measures aren’t needed, particularly if there is a consistent single driver-occupant of the vehicle. This is not so. All daily contacts can still be transported to the vehicle. Hand washing with soap is the new normal in every social circumstance.

Sneezing and wheezing are the overt proof the virus could be present, but be assured, there have been people who became infected and showed no noticeable symptoms.

Simple head-cold symptoms are now cause for serious further investigation.

Medical professionals are mandating a two-metre separation among people. There will likely be many single-occupant vehicles on the road and this separation advice in other situations will become a stark reality. This indeed is the new normal.

Many transportationbusinesses, my own included, have suspended operation until there is a provincial health-professional directive to resume. Better safe than sorry is the best way to react to this health crisis.

By the time this column goes to print, there will likely be more infections and the situation could, as predicted, become more dramatic. This new reality is going to force all of us to think first before we act.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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