Home Health & Fitness Touching your face could actually be spreading diseases all over your vehicles

Touching your face could actually be spreading diseases all over your vehicles

Touching your face could actually be spreading diseases all over your vehicles
Image Credit: Getty

Drivers touch their faces 26 times an hour on average, says a new Nottingham University study. Consequently, they may end up spreading germs all over their vehicles.

As a precaution during the disease outbreak, we were told to avoid touching our faces. Do you recall that?

And there’s a valid explanation behind this.

Whatever germs and viruses are present in your nose and throat are also present on your face, and touching your face may cause them to spread to wherever your hands land.

According to a new study conducted by Nottingham University, drivers touch their faces on average 26 times an hour, possibly spreading germs and diseases throughout their vehicle.

A total of 31 hours of archive video footage from two on-road driving experiments, which included 36 experienced drivers, was scrutinized by researchers from the University’s Human Factors Research Group.

They were seen stroking their faces 26.4 times each hour, for roughly four seconds each time they touched.

The most frequently touched area was the face itself (79 percent), followed by the hair (10 percent), neck (8 percent), and shoulders (1 percent ).

Every five minutes, 42 percent of drivers made contact with mucous membranes (the inner lining of the lips, nostrils, and eyes). The most frequently used fingers and thumbs were the index and middle fingers, which are typically overlooked when handwashing.

There were no gender or age differences, so it looks like all drivers could get sick from touching their faces while they were behind the wheel.

The researchers recognize that ­face-touching behaviors, such as nose picking and ear cleaning, may be considerably more common than they had previously suspected – particularly when drivers travel alone in their own vehicle.

Facial contact while driving, especially when there are other persons in the vehicle and when hand hygiene is poor, increases the chance of transmission. By scratching their nose or rubbing their eyes, for example, a driver may unintentionally spread viruses or other potentially hazardous foreign particles to their face.

Beyond the potential of virus transmission, repeatedly touching your face could be a distraction from properly steering your vehicle, placing others in danger as a result of your actions.

While driving in challenging conditions requiring significant attention, researchers discovered that the amount of time spent touching one’s face decreased.

Furthermore, driver monitoring systems – which can already detect fatigue and distraction by tracking the rate at which the eyes blink and the amount of time the head nods – might be developed to detect or forecast unintended face-touching as it occurs on the road.

Vehicles could be equipped with reminders and alarms that are visible to the driver in his or her regular range of vision, or they could be integrated into human-machine interfaces such as the car’s infotainment ­dashboard. This would serve to encourage the adoption and maintenance of these new, risk-avoidant habits.

Image Credit: Getty

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