Face masks are considered a key tool in mitigating and eventually ending the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even as Americans have gotten much more used to wearing face masks during the past year, questions still arise about when to wear them: Do they need to be worn outdoors? What about while driving a car?
While exact rules vary by jurisdiction, the general consensus is that masks don’t need to be worn when you are not around other people. This applies to driving alone in your car; in fact, wearing a mask while driving can do more harm than good. Read on to learn more.
When Do Masks Cause Distracted Driving?
Believe it or not, wearing a face mask while driving can be a source of distraction and a cause of car accidents. The primary ways masks can cause distracted driving include:
- No matter how well they fit, face masks tend to move naturally as you move your head. Thinking about your mask moving can be a cognitive distraction, and adjusting your mask is a manual distraction since it requires you to take at least one hand off the wheel.
- If your mask moves around enough while you’re driving, it can obstruct your vision. You’ll be forced to choose between the distraction of adjusting your mask and driving with limited vision, both of which can be dangerous.
- If you wear glasses, your mask may cause your glasses to fog up. Typically, this is just an annoying visual distraction, but on the road, it increases your risk of getting in a car crash.
There have been reports of car accidents linked to face masks during the pandemic, caused by distracted driving or other mask-related factors. For all of these reasons, when driving alone or with others in your household, it’s best to take a break from wearing your mask.
When are Masks Necessary While Driving?
Sometimes, however, the benefits of wearing a mask while driving outweigh the risk. The primary exception to the general rule above is if you drive for work, as a delivery driver, rideshare driver, bus driver, or other driver who frequently comes into contact with others during the workday.
Because cars are contained spaces in which physical distancing is not possible, it’s in everyone’s best interest that all parties wear face coverings for the duration of the drive. If your work situation necessitates mask wearing, make sure you do so safely:
- Before you start driving, make sure your mask fits comfortably and isn’t blocking your vision in any way.
- If you wear glasses, consider getting a face mask with a nose bridge so you can adjust it to your face and prevent your glasses from fogging up.
- Other techniques to prevent fogging include wearing your mask higher on your nose (with the bridge of your glasses on top of the mask), or, with surgical masks, placing a band-aid over your nose like a seal.
Injured in a Car Accident? Get Help
While face masks are a new and unexpected source of distraction for drivers, distracted driving is nothing new. Distracted driving behaviors have actually increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s as important as ever to commit to safe and focused driving habits. If you are injured in a car accident and you suspect the other driver was distracted for any reason, get help from a local attorney. Most car accident lawyers offer free initial consultations, and getting experienced legal guidance is the best way to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.