Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning guide to Americans that the coronavirus outbreak was fast approaching. This news caused face mask sales to skyrocket, and soon clueless drivers everywhere were wearing their newly coveted facemasks while driving…but why? Are you afraid you are going to infect yourself? Does your car have a weakened immune system? Silly at best and comical in the least, the masked driver is certainly one of the most humoring driving phenomenons to come along in a while.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illnesses.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes, and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
Fully appreciative of the life-threatening Covid-19 pandemic that is still unfolding globally around us, I understand that the Corona-virus is actively reshaping our social world and introducing new life-saving norms and mores, many of which have been long overdue in the Western world. Open to change and willing to adapt for the greater good of myself, my family, and my community I am however thoroughly confused by the phenomenon of drivers who now opt to wear a mask or respirator while driving. Particularly those drivers opting to wear their PPE while driving alone. Memes currently circulating the internet aptly compare the act of wearing a mask while driving alone to wearing a condom while laying in bed alone.
Offering a sense of security in a troubling time, face masks have become a common sight during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Offering protection from the virus, some auto manufacturers such as General Motors, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Volkswagen, and Kia are even helping suppliers produce face masks to help keep up with the high demand by both the public, first-responders and the medical sector alike. But, as this driver found out, excessive use of N95 masks can have consequences in some circumstances.
Questionable logic aside, there are also potential health concerns for drivers wearing face masks for extended periods of time while behind the wheel. To that point the driver of a recent single-car crash in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, is “believed” to have passed out behind the wheel after wearing an N-95 mask for too long. After the officers cleared the scene where the driver was the only occupant of the car, they posted photographs of the crash on their Facebook page with the following caption:
“The crash is believed to have resulted from the driver wearing an N95 mask for several hours and subsequently passing out behind the wheel due to insufficient oxygen intake/excessive carbon dioxide intake.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend people wear face coverings while driving and has also stressed that only health workers and medical first responders wear critically needed surgical masks and N95 respirators, which are “critical supplies that must continue to be reserved” for frontline workers.
Health officials recommend wearing masks in public, especially in places where there may be a lot of people and it’s difficult to practice social distancing. So unless you are an Uber, Lyft, or taxi driver what on earth are you hoping to accomplish by wearing that mask alone in your own car? There is no need for you to wear your mask in the parking lot by yourself, much less behind the wheel of your car. Safe travels!