Face Coverings: To wear or not to wear?

At the time of writing this blog, the wearing or not wearing of a face covering has become a moot point. Finally, there is clarity and just like obedient sheep, we are all wearing face coverings in public places where social distancing is impractical or impossible. As a driving instructor, I am happy to be back at work teaching people to drive after our 4 month hiatus. More importantly, however, I am relieved that are all wearing face coverings.

Social distancing in a car

It’s obvious that social distancing in driving lessons is not going to happen. It’s impossible to be 2 metres from my students. Wearing a face covering was going to be the new norm when I went back to work on July 6th however disappointingly, the DVSA (the department that regulates our industry), had made the requirement of wearing of face covering voluntary and not compulsory as I had hoped. Therefore, it was up to myself and my student if we wanted to cover up. The DVSA had mandated all candidates taking the practical driving test to wear a face covering, but stayed on the fence when it came to driving lessons. It seems they value their examiners more than their instructors.

Before the resumption of lessons, I had already communicated with my students that driving lessons where going to be a little different from before the lockdown. As with any reputable service industry, I informed my students how together we would take steps to protect ourselves and mitigate the spread of the virus even though we were unable to social distance. I left the wearing of face covering to the discretion of my students. I knew I would wear one and hoped my students would too.

During my first week, possibly half of my students chose not to wear a face covering. It was disappointing that so many of my students given the option preferred not to. Many of these students had legitimate reasons. Wearing a face covering in an enclosed space like a car is uncomfortable and can feel claustrophobic. These are all valid reasons. A face covering is uncomfortable especially if it is ill fitting. It gets hot and smelly if wearing for any length of time and I fully understand the feeling of claustrophobia is heightened by the anxiety of learning to drive especially after 4 months of lockdown.

Wearing of a face covering becomes Law

Since then, the Law on the wearing of face covering has changed. Thankfully, the covering of our mouth and nose is becoming the norm everywhere.

All my students have adopted face covering without too much descent!

Everyone has accepted this is the price to pay to stay safe and avoid another costly lockdown. This certainly makes me feel safer and I think as a society we all have a sigh of collective relief because it feels like the right thing to do to help stop the spread of this vicious illness. Yes, those of us who need to wear glasses get annoyed when they fog up and they still smell after prolonged wear, but thankfully learning to drive is again the predominate focus of our lessons.

How to wear a face covering

But, before we leave the topic of face coverings there are a number of suggestions which will make the wearing of them a little more tolerable. Most importantly, get a face covering that fits. You’ll be surprised how much of the discomfort and constant adjusting could be avoided if the covering covers the face comfortably.

In your practical test, the examiner will insist that the covering covers your mouth and nose throughout the duration of the test. If it doesn’t not, the examiner will give you the opportunity to readjust your covering. However, if the examiner feels that the covering is not fit for purpose or the continual adjusting of the covering makes your driving unsafe, they can terminate the test early. It makes sense, therefore, to make sure you have a face covering that you are comfortable with.

And finally, lets not forget the purpose of the face covering. The face covering shields us from ingesting the tiny droplets of Coronavirus that maybe airborne. They also stop you from touching your mouth and nose if your hands have picked up the virus from contaminated surfaces. It’s essential, therefore, that we continually change and wash our face coverings in hot water as we would our socks! We should all have several face coverings that fit comfortably and are clean for every new situation. If we chose to use disposable face coverings then lets make sure that we dispose of them safely and wear a new one at every lesson.

We live in a new post pandemic reality. Learning to drive with a face covering is a small sacrifice if it keeps us and our families safe.

If you have any questions about your safety whilst driving with Stop Stalling, then please visit our Safety Notice page. Or, please contact Franco who will be happy to help.

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Stop Stalling Automatic Driving School covering Hoddesdon, Ware, Hertford, Broxbourne, Cheshunt, Nazeing, Harlow and local areas.

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