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  • Warnings on wearing a face mask while driving

    Wearing a face mask while driving

    Face masks are now compulsory across England when visiting shops and supermarkets and most enclosed spaces where social distances measures aren’t possible.  

    As face masks are a new requirement for us, the rules can sometimes be confusing. Typically, if you are in close proximity to others where you can’t keep two meters apart, then a face mask is required, including taxis and buses.

    The unfortunate problem is that face masks can impact your vision, especially if you wear glasses. When wearing them together, they can cause glasses to steam up. However, not being able to see clearly while driving is very serious and you could be fined £1000 if your vision is impaired while driving.

    Do I need to wear a face mask while driving?

    Yes, you have to wear a face mask if you are driving taxis and private hire vehicles, as you are likely to be working with several different people throughout the day and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep two meters away from each other in a car.

    If you are a bus or taxi driver, you can also refuse to accept passengers who don’t wear a face covering. For some companies, wearing a mask is mandatory for both parties.

    You do not need to wear a mask if you are driving alone or with someone from your household in your personal, private vehicle.

    You can find out more on face-covering rules on the Department for Transport website.

    How wearing a face mask while driving can cause issues

    1. Impaired vision

    If you are driving while wearing glasses and a face mask, this can cause your glasses to go foggy and therefore destruct your vision. Some drivers are even switching to contacts lenses to combat this problem.

    Worryingly, an estimated 4 million eye tests have been missed over the last four months of lockdown. This means that potentially millions of people are driving with the incorrect glasses or lenses prescription, which is an offence. You should book an eye test if your vision has become increasingly blurrier over the past few months. 

    If people are driving without clear vision, it clearly increases the risk of accidents and causing harm to yourself or other drivers. It’s important that you attend all eye appointments and regularly get your eyes tested.

    2. Breathing difficulties

    Some people have complained that face masks are restrictive, and they find it difficult to breathe while wearing one. If you have any underline health issues that affect your breathing (such as asthma), you may be exempt from wearing a mask. If not, making sure you have an appropriate and well-made mask will help to improve airflow and allow you to breathe better. 

    3. Distraction

    Wearing a mask can of course be uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t used to wearing one. If you constantly have to readjust your mask for it to sit better, then you may need to find a new one. Readjusting masks while driving can be distracting and if you’re concentrating on your face mask then you aren’t concentrating on the road. 

    Make sure that when you are driving that your mask is in a comfortable position and you are wearing it properly, covering both your mouth and nose. 

    How to drive safely while wearing a face mask

    There are several actions you can take to make wearing a face mask while driving more comfortable, such as:

    • If you need to wear glasses, make sure your mask fits firmly enough to prevent air escaping, causing glasses to fog.
    • Use a face mask with an adjustable nose strap so it can fit perfectly around the shape of your nose, stopping air from escaping and fogging your glasses.
    • Use anti-fogging products for glasses to keep them clear.
    • Wash your glasses with soapy water to help prevent them from steaming up.
    • Buy suitable face masks that have good airflow, you may need to try a few different ones before you find one that works for you.
    • Keep up with eye appointments and check-ups so that your glasses prescription is up-to-date
    • Wear a mask that is comfortable so that you don’t have to readjust it while driving. 
    • If you start to feel unwell or if your mask is distracting you, stop and get out of the car in a safe place so you can get some air.

    Your safety and vision is the main focus when driving, especially if you are responsible for other passengers too. Try out different face masks to wear while driving and keep up to date with any guidance so you know exactly what is expected of you.

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