Health agencies have constantly reminded people to practice physical distancing, wear face masks, and regularly wash hands to avoid contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, they reminded people to avoid touching faces because it is also one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19. However, drivers cannot seem to follow this one based on the findings of a new study led by researchers from Nottingham University.
Drivers Touch Their Faces More Than 20 Times Per Hour
According to the Daily Mirror, the new research revealed that drivers touch their faces an average of 26 times per hour. This could potentially lead to them spreading bacteria or viruses all over the vehicle and could in turn infect other people.
In their study, they reported that the face itself was touched the most, about 79%, during the experiment. It was followed by hair with 10%, neck with 8%, and shoulders with 1%.
The study also showed that about 42% of these occasions that drivers touch their faces they made contact with mucous membranes, namely the lining of lips, nostrils, and eyes. They calculated that drivers are touching these areas every five minutes with either their fingertips or thumbs, even sometimes forgetting to wash their hands.
They said that the findings found no difference between male and female drivers, but indicated that all drivers are at higher risk of contamination through face touching while they are driving. Other face touching behaviors also include nose-picking and ear cleaning, which are commonly observed when they are traveling alone.
What Could Cause These Face Touching Behaviors Among Drivers?
Scientists warned that the actual statistics of face touching habits could be more common than the data they found, lifestyle website DIP reported. In terms of what causes the said behaviors, experts associated physical stress to mental stress that may have significantly impacted the frequency of behavior among drivers, especially when they are driving alone.
They said that drivers are less likely to touch their faces during stressful road situations, like preparing to change lanes, maneuvering around corners and when parking. The team hopes that the findings of their study could help in the development of new touchless interfaces inside automobiles.
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