The safest way to prevent the possible transmission of the coronavirus in a passenger car for two people is to keep all four windows down and sit as far as possible from the driver i.e., in the rear seat on the opposite side, according to a new computational fluid dynamic study.
Lead author Varghese Mathai and the team found that modelled configuration created two distinct flows of air in the car’s cabin, separated along the midline of the car and moving.
The researchers observed that this separated airflow configuration was the most effective at reducing the transmission of simulated infectious droplets from either driver to passenger, or vice versa.
The researchers also assessed the opposite scenario – all four windows up – as well as four other scenarios with either one or two windows closed.
The fully enclosed scenario, which relied only on simulated, non-recirculated airflow from the car’s air conditioning system, was the riskiest of all six simulated scenarios.
Travelling with three open windows fared better than only two open windows. However, this also depends on which window the passengers want to open.
The researchers further noted that closing only the window closest to the non-infected person conferred the greatest protection, second only to the scenario with all four windows open.
The authors concluded that “these results will have a strong bearing on infection mitigation measures for the hundreds of millions of people driving in passenger cars and taxis worldwide, and potentially yield to safer and lower-risk approaches to personal transportation.”