What Safety Features are Becoming a Priority Amid the Pandemic?

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Advanced safety features such as blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control are usually major selling points for consumers who are looking for a vehicle that is going to reduce the risk of being involved in a car accident. Although these features are still important to consumers, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made consumers much more concerned about the air quality inside the vehicle. As a result, in addition to the collision avoidance and crash protection technology, many consumers have a growing interest in vehicles that are equipped with air filtration systems, contactless service options, and virtual retail experiences. Car companies have had to adapt to the impact that the global pandemic has had on consumers, and what their priorities are when purchasing a new car.

According to a recent Volvo survey, consumers have become much more concerned with sanitation-related features. For example, 53 percent of respondents said that they wanted an air conditioner with a built-in germ filtering system, followed by 52 percent who said that they wanted sanitation procedures incorporated into the standard maintenance package. As masks continue to be a requirement in most stores, restaurants, offices, and in-door facilities, consumers also expressed an interest in having masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants more accessible inside the vehicle. In fact, 43 percent of respondents were receptive to the idea of having a phone sanitizer in the console, or a specific spot where masks could be stored. Drivers who have been involved in a car accident during the pandemic should reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer for assistance.

How Do Air Filtration Systems Help with Air Quality?

Volvo introduced a new air filtration system for all its 2021 models. The system uses ionization and synthetic filters to remove 95 percent of the impurities from the air. Although these systems are not yet being touted as protective measures against COVID-19, consumers may be willing to pay for any new feature that can reduce the risk of spreading or contracting the virus from inside the car. Some consumers would like to see more manufacturers offer high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters as a standard feature. They are currently used in all Tesla vehicles. In fact, the air filtration system used in Tesla vehicles strips the air of pollen, bacteria, and pollution before it enters the cab. It has been reported that a HEPA filter can also remove certain viruses from the air.

Motorists who want to address the air quality immediately but are not yet in the market for a new car can purchase a stand-alone air purifier that has a HyperHEPA Plus filter that is supposed to remove up to 99 percent of particles from the air. According to the CEO of IQAir, the company that manufactures Atem Car, a HyperHEPA Plus filter, this filter removes particles as small as 0.003 microns. That means it is extremely effective at removing airborne viruses, as well as the dangerous emissions that vehicles can produce, including soot and benzene.

What are the Safety Risks Associated with Poor Filtration Systems?

It is virtually impossible to practice social distancing when riding in the car with one or more passengers. Although it is not realistic to expect people to drive alone at all times, it is highly recommended that they wear masks when other passengers are in the vehicle. However, according to a recent study, face masks and barrier shields may not be effective against all viruses. In fact, aerosols can pass through most face masks, with the exception of high-performance filters. Micrometer-sized aerosols are transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Even talking and breathing can transmit aerosols into the air. The study shows that the virus can be viable inside the cabin for up to three hours.

The study found that the most effective way to prevent cross-contamination between the driver and the other occupants in the vehicle is to have all the windows open. This establishes an airflow that isolates the right and left sides and maximizes the air changes per hour (ACH) inside the vehicle. However, driving with all the windows open is not always a realistic option. Researchers found that the least effective option is to run the air conditioning while all the windows are closed. Opening the windows adjacent to each other was effective, but not as effective as opening two windows farthest from the occupants.  Channeling fresh air across the rear seat and out the front right window helped minimize the interaction with the driver in the front left position.

Speed is another factor that had a significant impact on airflow. For example, the slower the car is moving, the lower the ACH. The longer motorists and passengers are inside a vehicle that is moving at a slow rate of speed, the greater the chance of pathogenic infection.

Will Car Companies Create a Virtual Buying Experience?

In addition to concerns about air quality inside the vehicle, a growing number of consumers are also interested in purchasing a new vehicle with as little human contact as possible. Health is a top priority for consumers, said the chief customer officer for Hyundai Motor North America, and they want the buying experience to be as safe, reliable, and dependable as possible. As a result, Hyundai is offering digital and remote offerings for retail sales and service, including a click-to-buy option, a home delivery service, and pick-up and drop-off services that involve minimal contact interactions.

Although the pandemic has led to more customers wanting a more virtual experience, a Deloitte study found that most customers want to see the vehicle they are purchasing with their own eyes. In fact, despite the health concerns associated with the global pandemic, 71 percent of U.S. consumers prefer to purchase a new vehicle in person. That makes the basic safety precautions, such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand washing, that much more important when consumers come to a car dealership.

What are Consumers Going to Want Post-Pandemic?

The pandemic has had a significant influence in terms of what consumers are looking for when purchasing a new vehicle post-pandemic. Examples include the following:

  • High-tech safety features. Consumers are becoming much more interested in safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. The technology is not necessarily new to consumers, but they have become more of a priority since the pandemic.
  • Technology and warranty upgrades. In addition to a shift from smaller sedans to SUVs with great safety ratings, consumers are also looking for vehicles that have excellent tech options that will keep them entertained during long car rides. Comprehensive factory warranties are a priority as well.
  • Electric or hybrid options. Drivers have also become much more interested in vehicles that are more fuel efficient. Electric and hybrid vehicles allow motorists to make fewer trips to the gas station, or they can recharge the vehicle at home and skip the gas station altogether.

How can I Stay Safe When Driving During the Pandemic?

Whether purchasing a new vehicle or keeping the one they have, there are steps motorists can take to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 when driving or traveling, including the following:

  • Avoid frequent travel. The more frequently motorists travel, the more they are exposed to people and surfaces that could increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Avoid high-touch surfaces. Studies show that gas pumps carry up to 11,835 times the germs of the average public toilet seat. Other high-touch surfaces include keypads, door handles, and faucets. Drivers should wear gloves when touching field pumps and wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or paying for gas.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the car. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 increases when there are more passengers in the vehicle. Motorists should try to limit the number of passengers to one at a time if possible.
  • Wash hands frequently. All motorists and passengers must wash their hands regularly, particularly after using the bathroom or coming in contact with high-touch surfaces. In addition, motorists should use hand sanitizer after getting into the car to prevent any cross-contamination with surfaces they may have touched.
  • Disinfect the vehicle’s interior. Drivers should keep a supply of disinfecting wipes in the car and wipe down high-touch surfaces such as door handles, gear shifts, all knobs, and the dashboard on a regular basis.
  • Open the windows between rides. Studies suggest that the COVID-19 virus can live for up to three hours inside a vehicle. Opening the windows between rides can air out the vehicle and reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Follow the recommended guidelines. All motorists and passengers are urged to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other state and local health departments.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent All Car Accident Victims

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand that safety is a top priority, particularly as we continue to navigate the global pandemic. Our dedicated legal team will work closely with you to determine who is responsible for causing the accident and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.