Is it safe to ride taxis during the COVID-19 crisis, and what measures can taxi drivers take to protect themselves and their passengers? Today, we’ll cover some risks of using taxis and similar vehicles in times of the coronavirus, and we’ll also reveal how drivers can keep themselves and their passengers safe.
Is It Safe to Ride Taxis?
Firstly, taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, and other vehicles for hire transport hundreds of passengers per week. Thus, it makes sense that they are highly exposed to the spread of the coronavirus. Still, riding cabs has been a major part of people’s everyday routine for centuries, and most public transportation services are endangered during COVID-19. They are also facing backlash from critics who believe that they should not be available to the public during the pandemic.
If you consider the official advice from most countries, the evidence states that a distance of six feet is optimal to prevent the spread. Moreover, all people are advised not to be in close contact with others for longer than ten minutes. As a result, taxis face an additional challenge. That is, it’s impossible to form an effective distance of six feet inside a taxi. To further add to the problem, not everyone who is infected can show symptoms. This means that airborne droplets from previous passengers could contaminate the vehicles without you even knowing it.
The Risks of Using a Taxi
Even with new procedures enforced on taxis and public transport vehicles, there’s no guarantee that taxis are safe. In terms of those new procedures, companies like Uber have prohibited shared rides. Many have also advised passengers and drivers to stick to the official safety measures. That means passengers and drivers should use masks as well as hand sanitizers.
Also, travel is discouraged for anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. As mentioned, those measures may not be enough to contain the spread. The reason is that they are difficult to monitor and enforce. Sticking with Uber, the company attempted to solve that issue with a new rule for drivers. Namely, the drivers have to take a selfie while wearing a mask before they punch in. Other services have stopped carrying passengers altogether.
Are Passengers and Drivers Safe?
Like we’ve said, even with various preventive measures, there’s no way to know who was in a taxi before you. Passengers also don’t know about the condition of their driver. This May, the UK faced a crisis for taxi services since many were still operating during the lockdown. The government’s only advice was to refuse any passenger without a mask. Even worse, the drivers were mainly transporting patients, NHS staff, and other health workers. Another thing that the UK example emphasizes is that most of its drivers are men. What’s more, the majority is from ethnic minority groups, which are already facing an incredibly high risk of contracting the disease.
Tips on How Drivers Can Protect Themselves and Their Passengers
Sadly, most drivers of taxis and other vehicles for hire do not have the means to stop working due to the pandemic. Still, as a driver, you can greatly reduce the risk of getting infected by following some tips on how taxi drivers can protect themselves.
While a mask, hand sanitizer, and gloves are essential, it’s crucial to be aware of your customers. If they do not use any mask, shield, face covering, or gloves, it’s safer to refuse them your service. Some services and health agencies advise taxi drivers on asking their passengers about any symptoms within the previous 14 days.
Of course, a barrier between the driver and passenger is the most effective because it serves as a large shield between you and the passenger. What’s more, you should always instruct passengers to sit in the back seat and as far away from you as possible. That will provide the most effective social distancing in a small space.
Concerning luggage and bags, it’s safer not to help your customers. They should be able to store their own luggage in the trunk, especially if you can open it from the driver’s seat. However, if they need help, try to keep as much distance as possible.
How to Protect Your Passengers
When it comes to tips on how taxi drivers can protect their passengers, it’s fairly obvious that drivers shouldn’t work if they don’t have a mask.
Taxi drivers who do not have a barrier between the passenger and themselves could purchase or make one and install it in their car. It’s possible to buy plastic sheets for this. However, the disadvantage is that they can make the ride a bit uncomfortable. They will prevent you from using the AC. Yet, you should try not to use it anyway to keep your customers safe.
What’s more, depending on the service, there will be various rules for sanitizing your car. Sanitizing the car after each passenger can make customers more comfortable and safer. Cab drivers should clean and disinfect several important surfaces of their vehicles. That includes seats, the steering wheel, door frame, door panels and handles, along with window buttons. Many also advise drivers to clean the carpets and use a disinfectant with at least 60% alcohol. The optimal number of people that you should take on each day should be about eight to ten. And even if you’re using gloves, you should wash your hands with soap and water before and after you finish your work. Lastly, avoid coughing or sneezing in the car and avoid touching surfaces without gloves on.
On the other hand, if you’re the passenger, might as well read these tips.
The Right Information Is Key
The pandemic has been active for quite some time now, and we have all gotten familiar with most of the safety measures. However, there are still some people and passengers who do not respect or know about those measures. As you’ve seen in our tips, there are many ways in which you and your passengers can feel safer. The key to keeping safe is to stay informed, keep track of new safety measures, and generally keep track of the pandemic in your region. That includes keeping up to date with the latest news and numbers.
Also, another tip is to know about the high-risk areas. Try to avoid them or prepare yourself even more if you have to pick passengers up in those areas. You might want to see this travel recommendations by CDC.
The Bottom Line
As we’ve said, there are many measures that you can take, but none of them are 100% effective. Still, the majority of people have to keep working during the pandemic, and that includes taxi drivers. If you aren’t in a position to take a break from work, stick to the tips we’ve outlined above. And if you’re a passenger, don’t neglect the safety measures since you could endanger yourself and your driver. Good luck and stay safe!