It seems that Sunday drives are back on the scene. All around the globe, people have been shut in by stay-at-home orders and the closure of restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and just about any other destination for fun and entertainment. Restless, many have taken to their cars, trucks, and SUVs for some time away from home or some rest and relaxation.
But did you know that the condition of your car can have an effect on your health and wellbeing? A cluttered and unclean vehicle can impair your physical and mental health, and impact vehicle safety. Whether your car doubles as a home away from home, an extended “safe space”, a reprieve from the kids and the chaos, or simply a moment of relaxation to and from the workplace, keeping it clean and tidy can improve your driving experience and your health.
Good for your body
Nearly a year into a worldwide pandemic, you are certainly familiar with now-common concepts of personal hygiene and social distancing as measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And by now, you have probably had your fill of advice to wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay six feet away from, well, almost everyone.
For many people, their car has become a barrier against the coronavirus. Think about it. You go to the grocery store wearing a mask. You wipe down the handle on the shopping cart with disinfectant to make sure it is free from germs. You travel down one-way aisles, careful to avoid getting too close to other shoppers. When you are done with your duty, you head back to your place in the parking lot, pack up your groceries into the trunk or cargo compartment, and breathe a big sigh of relief when you finally sit back down behind the wheel. Sound familiar? Our cars have become an extension of the safety and security we feel when we are at home.
But are you really safe once you close the car door on the rest of the world? Well, naturally, unless you take certain precautions, you are bringing the rest of the world into your car with you. That’s why you keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the console.
That has always been the case, really. Long before coronavirus was an everyday word, we were introducing into our vehicles all kinds of contaminants that can impact our physical health.
Think of all the dirt that is captured in your carpet. Those dust particles can lead to respiratory issues unless you vacuum your carpets regularly. A cabin air filter helps to remove contaminants from air that enters through the vents, but the filter needs to be changed regularly as part of routine maintenance in order to be effective. And when it comes to germs, coronavirus is not the only concern; studies have shown that the floor, steering wheel, and shift lever can contain nearly nine times the number of bacteria as a public toilet seat!
So, it is in the best interest of your physical health – and that of your loved ones – to keep your car clean on the inside.
Good for your mind
Cars have also become a sort of mental and emotional retreat for many drivers. Probably as long as the car has been around, people have enjoyed the peace and solitude of their drive to and from work (traffic jams and road rage notwithstanding). Moms have long had to deal with hectic schedules filled with soccer games and school activities, and many have dreaded those hours in the minivan. But now, after being cooped up in the house for months on end, working from home and enduring seemingly endless hours of Zoom classes for school with the kids, spending some time in the car sounds more like a soak in a clawfoot tub surrounded by soft music and candlelight.
On the other hand, getting away from the mental chaos and clutter everywhere else requires an environment that itself is free from chaos and clutter. That means keeping your car clean and organized.
Science has long shown a correlation between a lack of organization and stress. Clutter can lead to elevated cortisol levels. That’s the stress hormone responsible for our fight or flight response. Not very relaxing! When you are surrounded by clutter, the tendency is to become mentally exhausted from sorting through so much visual stimuli and attempting to make so many sorting decisions – whether you are aware of it or not. Higher levels of stress response (including response to a cluttered environment) are said to increase depression and anxiety, the very opposite of an in-car getaway.
Maybe a spring cleaning for your car is in order, whatever season you find yourself in…
Good for your safety
Not only does a clean car make for a healthier environment, both physically and mentally, but it also keeps you safer on the road.
Likely, there are a good many reasons for this. If you tend to keep your car clean on the inside, you probably keep up with other maintenance items: regular oil changes, tire rotations, or getting your brake pads replaced before they wear down enough to grind against the brake rotors. Uneven tire wear and bad brakes are no friends to vehicle safety. That is why it is important to keep up with maintenance, even when your car is sitting still for long periods of time. Diligence when it comes to vehicle maintenance will help your car to last longer and it will keep you safer on the road.
And then, of course, is the problem of clutter inside your car. Items that are rolling around on the floor are distracting at best. An empty soda can stuck under the brake pedal is more than a distraction – it is dangerous. A pile of books and papers and whatnot heaped up on a seat becomes both a distraction and a possible hindrance when you find yourself in a panic braking situation. And those heavy items in the cargo compartment can become extremely dangerous projectiles should you be involved in a crash.
A clean car is more than just a vehicle to get you from point A to point B. It is, or at least it can be, a place of safety and security in an otherwise jumbled world.
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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