Every once in a while, I see memes or social media posts making fun of people who are wearing face masks while behind the wheel. “Why would anyone wear a mask while driving?” Well, there are several reasons. You might be wearing a mask if you are driving with someone outside your contact circle (which, even with a mask, is terribly dicy) or you could do what I do: Wear your mask while driving as a reminder not to touch your face.
I’m high risk so I am very serious about not getting the ‘Rona. From day one, I took all the Centers For Disease Control recommendations to heart. In the early days of the outbreak, I would even straight-up strip my clothes off as soon I was in the house and hop into the shower after any trip I had to do. Then I’d bleach all the door handles I had touched on my way. Yeah, I’m a ‘Rona warrior.
Remember not touching your face? It was a favorite recommendation of the CDC in the early days of the pandemic. Then we all realized holy shit it is straight-up impossible to not touch your face. A British study found that humans touch their faces an average of 23 times every hour. The talking point was mostly dropped in the media, though the CDC still recommends washing your hands before you touch your face in big bold letters on its COVID-19 prevention tips website. While we understand the greatest risk for COVID-19 transmission is through the air, the CDC still warns against the possibility of surface transmission.
So I have a system: While I don’t wear my mask while driving to wherever I need to go I do wear it on my way back as a reminder to leave my face alone. I always hit my hands with sanitizer when I get back into the car and have disinfectant wipes for the hard surfaces, but I don’t trust all that as much as a thorough hand washing in my safe space.
Now I know what you’re thinking: wearing a mask is annoying. It’s this constant reminder of how crummy things are sitting directly on your pretty face. Which is why it is so useful. When I get behind the wheel and go to scratch my face or push my hair back, I have this annoying, intrusive object that forces me to consciously tackle an unconscious action. It reminds me a bit of being in middle school when I started painting my fingernails to stop my nail-biting habit. I don’t take off my mask until my hands have been properly washed, ensuring clean hands touching my face to remove the mask.
So sure, wearing a mask while driving might make people in traffic think you’re weird, but who cares? You’re hacking your own brain and preventing the transmission of a terrible disease. I don’t mind looking like a dingus for that.