FACE, SPACE, DRIVE: How to make your car share COVID secure from a leading UK health expert

Only 16% of drivers feel ‘well-informed’ about the latest COVID car guidelines
• 7 in 10 know face coverings are vital, but only 18% ask passengers to wear one
• 8 in 10 passengers would feel safer if drivers established clear COVID precautions, but 47% of drivers do not establish any at all

The overwhelming majority of UK motorists (97%) believe that using a private vehicle is currently safer than travelling on public transport. However, nearly four in ten (37%) drivers admit to taking no COVID safety precautions at all when driving with passengers.

Since 58% of Brits are still giving lifts to people from outside their household bubble, these journeys have the potential to spread the virus.

To help keep drivers safe, temporary car insurance specialist Tempcover has teamed up with chartered environmental health expert Dr Lisa Ackerley to create the definitive COVID safety checklist for your journeys.

While Brits might be comfortable sharing cars in the current climate, many admit they’re not sure of the best practices to keep themselves and their passengers safe. Only one in six (16%) UK motorists said they felt ‘well-informed’ about the latest COVID guidelines relating to personal vehicle use, with many more saying that they are not entirely sure if they are doing the right thing.

In general, it seems that Brits have remarkably good instincts about what precautions are the most important, however few people are acting on these instincts.

When asked which safety measure is the most effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19, an overwhelming seven in ten (69%) said face coverings, which the majority of experts agree is the best precaution you can take.

Despite this, only 18% of motorists ask their passengers to wear face coverings, and even fewer drivers (14%) wear them themselves.

In fact, the most common precaution that drivers actually take is sanitising their hands before/after driving, with over half (52%) doing this themselves and a third (29%) asking their passengers to follow suit. Of the various precautionary measures drivers can take, less than one in ten (9%) are asking their passengers to keep their windows open to circulate fresh air, something that experts say is essential when car sharing.

According to Dr Ackerley, the fact that many are simply relying on hand sanitising to stop the spread of the virus shows a misunderstanding of how COVID-19 typically spreads.

She says: “It’s great that drivers are trying to take precautions against Coronavirus, and sanitising your hands at key moments is always good practice. However, when it comes to this particular virus, people need to be better educated about the journey of the germ – that’s how the virus spreads from person to person. With a respiratory infection, the most likely primary cause of transmission is aerosol or droplet particles in the air passing from one person to another via the nose and mouth as well as being picked up by hands and transferred to the eyes, nose or mouth. In an enclosed space like a private car, the lack of distance means that additional precautions are needed to reduce the risks.”

Many of these additional precautions are to do with how the airflow circulates in a vehicle, and thanks to research by Dr Ackerley, Tempcover can reveal the DOs and DON’Ts when sharing a personal vehicle with people outside of your household bubble.


• Wear face coverings at all times

• Keep your windows open a few inches to circulate fresh air

• Sit as far apart as possible – if there’s just one passenger, sit in the rear passenger-side seat and if you’re regularly sharing a car, make sure everyone has a designated seat and sticks to it

• Provide anti-microbial wipes for passengers to use (store them in the back of the car)

• Wipe down all passenger contact surfaces on entry and exit, including:

• Seat belts and slot

• Window controls

• Car door handles (inside and out)

• Seat rest


• Turn around to talk to people in the back

• Shout or sing – it increases the spread of droplets

• Turn your air con/heating on – if you absolutely need to, make sure it is not set to recirculated air (check your driver manual for this setting)

• Travel under any circumstances if you have any of the following symptoms:

• New persistent cough

• Fever

• Lack of taste and smell

While some drivers may hesitate to enforce strict rules in their own vehicles, there is ample evidence to show that Brits do want proper precautions to be in place.

In fact, Tempcover data revealed that eight in ten (80%) passengers say they would feel safer in the vehicle if the driver set out clear COVID precautions like the ones listed above. In contrast, 47% of surveyed drivers do not ask their passengers to take any precautions.

To keep motorists safe and to avoid any awkward disagreements, Tempcover recommends that drivers ask each of their passengers to agree to a COVID car contract: six simple steps that they must follow if accepting a ride in your car, something that Dr Ackerley wholeheartedly agrees with.

Dr Ackerley says: “Knowing the correct procedures is only half the battle; the difficulty is ensuring that your passengers are aware of your rules and stick to them. I’d highly recommend discussing your ‘rules’ with everyone before they get in the car, and ensure they agree to follow them every time. This saves embarrassment as everyone knows what is expected and you don’t risk refusing a lift to someone because they may have forgotten their face covering, for example.”

More than two thirds of respondents (69%) are currently using a private vehicle for work and leisure purposes, evidence that it is the safest means of travel in the current environment. In addition to these top tips, it is essential that all drivers and their passengers always follow government advice on safety precautions, especially when carrying people from outside their household bubble.

Another fundamental aspect of a safe car share journey is having the correct insurance cover. Tempcover CEO Alan Inskip said: “In addition to being one of the safest means of transport during the COVID-19 pandemic, car sharing is also a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way for people to travel but many motorists may be driving other people’s vehicles thinking that they have sufficient cover with their annual insurance policy, when in fact they may not. This is where short-term car insurance adds tremendous value, as comprehensive cover can be taken out for as little as one hour all the way up to 28-days, without impacting either drivers’ no-claims bonus.”

To find out what other precautions you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19 inside your vehicle, visit Tempcover. Please cite this source link when referencing statistics, quotes or do’s and don’ts in upcoming features

For more information please contact a member of the Tempcover PR team on tempcover@hardnumbers.co.uk

Our Data

Findings were sourced from a survey of 2,016 UK drivers from the 05th – 07st of October 2020 using https://www.prolific.co. To view the raw data look here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e8yOZhKCC8Vufr4POBWsqyURS-rHuR7nh84RCSLZprQ/edit#gid=0

Supporting Research


About Tempcover

Tempcover is an award-winning online InsurTech specialising in short-term car, van, motorbike, student, and learner insurance – having sold more than 3-million policies since 2006. Tempcover enables drivers aged 18-75 with full UK, provisional and EU licences to purchase temporary fully comprehensive coverage from as little as 1-hour to 28-days in duration. Our short-term policies offer truly flexible cover for the time drivers actually need – with no long-term commitment or auto-renewals. Our temporary cover does not impact other annual policies or no claims discounts, as it is a separate, standalone policy.


About Dr Lisa Ackerley

Dr Lisa Ackerley is an expert in commercial food safety & consumer hygiene who is regularly called upon to comment on public hygiene issues. Ever since writing her PHD over 30 years ago, Dr Lisa has been passionate about making a difference to public health by ensuring consumer hygiene issues are easy to understand.

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