Mask in the supermarket, at work and in the car? The coronavirus pandemic has imposed the use of this hygienic-sanitary element as a measure to stop its advance. Its use in vehicles is regulated by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, which establishes the obligation to wear a mask in the car, moped and other means of transport.

Is driving with a mask necessary? Is there a possibility of contracting SARS-CoV-2 in this environment? A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) revealed that the interior of a vehicle is capable of hosting up to 700 types of bacteria. More recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the coronavirus can remain on solid surfaces (dashboards, seats, seat belts, steering wheel, etc.) for four days.

Drivers therefore have compelling reasons to consider the use of surgical and hygienic masks in their vehicles, regardless of the rulings of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda.

Is it mandatory to wear a mask in the car?

According to Order TMA / 400/2020 published in the BOE last May, in private and complementary private transport of people with up to nine seats, including the driver, as many people as there are seats may travel the vehicle if they all reside in the same address. In this case, the use of a mask will not be necessary.

Drivers of motorcycles, mopeds and category L vehicles will find an answer in the following section: “Two people can travel as long as they either wear a full-face helmet with a visor or use a mask or reside at the same address.” In the case of carsharing or shared vehicle, the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda transfers the regulations of private and private vehicles.

Fines and penalties for not wearing the mask while driving

Since it is mandatory to drive with a mask in several cases, the Government of Spain has provided fines of up to 100 euros, which it considers to be minor. In this case, the provisions of article 57 of the General Public Health Law, in force since October 2011, apply.

On the other hand, drivers who are exempt from wearing a mask on their vehicle or moped should pay attention when parking. If they have parked in their parking lot or private home, they will not have to wear a mask; In the case of having parked on public roads or in another environment, they must put on this medical material before leaving the cabin. Also, in this case, sanctions would be applied in accordance with the provisions of article 57 of the General Law of Public Health.

Storing and transporting the mask is a problem for most drivers. For greater comfort, it is recommended to use a mask holder or other similar accessory, which avoids contact of the mask with surfaces inside the vehicle.

What are the exceptions to using a face mask in the car?

Order TMA / 400/2020 of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda have sown doubts among drivers, due to the large number of exceptions that are raised. In fact, most drivers will be able to take advantage of an exception and avoid wearing a mask in the car.

Because it is unnecessary to drive with a mask if the driver travels alone or in the company of people who live in the same home, whether they are family members or not. The current regulations do not establish a limit of places, being able to occupy the maximum allowed in the corresponding vehicle.

It is important to remember, “the driver of a vehicle is obliged to maintain their own freedom of movement, the necessary field of vision and permanent attention to driving, which guarantee their own safety, that of the rest of the occupants of the vehicle and that of other road users”, according to article 18 of the General Traffic Regulations.

And it is that the improper use of the mask in the car or an excessive number of passengers can carry, even within the law, a slight fine. A mask placed in the wrong position (under the nose, on the chin, on the forehead, hanging on the ear, etc.) can limit the vision of the driver, which is why the user and driver are exposed to a fine, still being a case of exception.

Another reason to remove the mask and transport it in mask holders inside the vehicle, as long as an exceptional case protects us, is the useful life of the mask, which will be drastically reduced during these trips. The duration of this medical material reaches 4 hours. Even in masks marked with the ‘R’ for ‘reusable’, accumulated perspiration after 4-5 hours of use would force them to be replaced by others.