If you’re a germaphobe who takes your car to work every morning, you may just want to skip this story – or you could be doing more spraying than steering.
A British study has come to some shocking conclusions about what you’re driving around with in your car on your way to and from work every day – and it’s not those carpoolers beside you.
The research from Aston University in Birmingham shows the average vehicle has about 283 different types of bacteria inside of it in every square centimetre. And that’s not all. One of the worst offenders is the place you touch the most often – the gear shift. That was found to be home to about 356 different germs.
Even more alarming is your trunk, where some 850 bacteria were found to be happily going along for the ride. In one case, scientists also discovered traces of excrement there, noting it’s the same place where many people put their groceries after coming home from a shopping trip.
Not surprisingly, microbiologists determined those who transport kids and pets had the most germ filled cars.
“Whilst most of the bacteria we’ve found are unlikely to cause serious health problems, some cars, particularly those which regularly carry children and animals, play host to potentially harmful germs,” notes Anthony Hilton, the University’s director of Biology and Biomedical Science.
Another big problem: the dashboard, where many people put their food, as they eat on the run. Researchers found old hamburger wrappers, empty drink bottles, and even uneaten morsels in many of the cars, while their survey of more than 1,300 owners found most admitted their vehicles were littered with such debris.
That has Hilton worried. “People would be horrified at the thought of eating off their toilet seat,” he warns. “But few realize eating off their car dashboard is just as likely to make them sick.”
If that still hasn’t made you paranoid about getting behind the wheel, consider this as winter approaches – turning on the heat could be blowing more microscopic beasties your way.
Older cars were found to harbour larger amounts of airborne bacteria and fungi whenever a driver turns on the fan. Scientists believe that’s because few people bother to replace their air filters as their vehicles age.
The study was conducted for a U.K. insurance comparison website in a bid to remind motorists to take better care of their cars.
And it shows the majority of those asked admit to being something of a slob when it comes to their automobiles. Fully half agreed they’d never allow their homes to reach the condition their cars are in.
Think about that as you head back and forth to work this week.
If you haven’t decided to walk.