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Ride-share vehicles carry more germs than a toilet seat. Here’s where not to touch.

Ride-share vehicles carry more germs than a toilet seat. Here’s where not to touch.
A woman gets into an Uber car at LaGuardia Airport in New York.in this file photo. (Seth Wenig / AP)

Headed to Fort Lauderdale’s airport in an Uber? Bring your anti-bacterial wipes.

A new study by insurance company Netquote finds ride-share vehicles — like Uber and Lyft — carry 35,000 times more germs than a toilet seat. The average ride-share vehicle also has about 219 times as many germs as the average taxi.

These are the areas of rideshare cars with the most germs.

Netquote mobilized a team to hail taxis, request ride-share vehicles and secure rental cars, and then swabbed various surfaces in the cars. Samples sent to a lab looked at how many colony-forming units were present per square inch followed by a breakdown of the germ type. In all types of vehicles, the team found germs including those linked to skin infections, blood infections and food poisoning.

As South Florida embraces ride-hailing apps, users may want to wipe the backseat down before catching an Uber to head home from a nightclub. The study found toothbrush holders and coffee reservoirs both contained fewer microorganisms than rides-share cars. Researchers say most of the germs were found in the back seat on window buttons and seat belts. Door handles weren’t as bad, though they still had more germs than those in personal vehicles.

These are the areas of rideshare cars with the most germs.
These are the areas of rideshare cars with the most germs.

In rental cars, bacteria appeared mostly on the steering wheels and gear shifts. Rental car gear shifts were 6,829 times germier than gear shifts in a personal vehicle. In taxis, the germiest surfaces were seat belts.

“It’s only natural that a vehicle with an ever-changing roster of occupants would yield more bacteria than your own car,” said a spokesman for Netquote. 'But comfy as they may be, you’re far from the only person who’s rolling down windows, buckling seatbelts and grasping door handles and steering wheels in these vehicles."

Netquote advises wiping key surfaces before you touch them. Once you leave the cab or ride-share, wash your hands as soon as possible — and avoid touching your face until you do.

Florida’s recent struggle with hepatitis A makes washing hands and wiping highly touched surfaces more crucial. The state has more than 1,200 reported cases. Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person through objects, food or drinks that are contaminated by small amounts of fecal matter from a person with Hepatitis A. The virus can live on a surface and spread when someone touches that surface and puts their hand in their mouth. “The disease is very hardy,” said Carina Blackmore, the Florida Department of Health state epidemiologist. “It can survive in the environment for long periods of time.”

Netquote cautions that its tests were done on only nine random vehicles, which leaves room for a more scientific study.

Uber said this study looked at only nine vehicles and Uber does millions of trips every day with hundreds of thousands of drivers across the U.S. “We regularly communicate to drivers that cleanliness of the vehicle can have an impact on their star rating,” the company said in a written statement.

Uber also said drivers have incentive to keep their cars clean; They earn badges for having clean cars, and drivers with dirty cars can lose access to Uber when their ratings are low.

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Comment by stephen myers on Monday

They should have bio suites for the ride.

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