Rideshare vehicles may carry more germs than toilet seats, study finds

Posted: 9:58 PM, May 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-10 21:59:27-04
Rideshare germs

The next time you decide to take an Uber or a Lyft, you might want to pack a bottle of hand sanitizer with you on your trip.

A study conducted by netQuote , an online insurance marketplace, found that rideshare vehicles yield the highest bacteria of vehicles tested, including taxis and rental cars.

The study swabbed the seat belt, door handle, and window buttons on three random taxis and three random rideshare vehicles, as well as the steering wheel, gear shift, and seat belt of three random rental cars. The swabs were then sent to a lab, that later sent back a breakdown of the number of bacteria and specific bacteria present in the vehicles.

The rideshare vehicles, on average, yielded more than six-million bacteria cells in the swab samples. That is about 35,000 times more germs than found on a toilet seat and three-times more germs than found on a toothbrush holder, according to the study.

The study found that most germs are found on the vehicle’s window buttons. More than 5,000,000 bacteria cells were found on the rideshare vehicle's window buttons. The seat belts in these vehicles also yielded high numbers of bacteria cells.

Nearly all of the bacteria found on the seat belts in the rideshare vehicles were gram-negative rods, bacteria that are usually harmful to humans and many of which are resistant to antibiotics. Examples of gram-negative rods include E. coli, cholera, and gonorrhea, the study said.

Rideshare door handles surprisingly had the least amount of bacteria cells present, but of the average 1,810 bacteria cells found in the study, more than half were gram-positive cocci— bacteria linked to causing skin infections, pneumonia and blood poisoning, according to the study.

Rental cars averaged more than two-million bacteria cells swabbed, most of which were found on the steering wheel and gear-shifter. Rental car shifters were more than 6,000 times more germy than a typical gear-shifter, while rental car steering wheels were more than 390,000 times more germy than a typical steering wheel, according to the study.

Taxis seemed to carry the least amount of germs of all the vehicles tested, yielding only 27,593 bacteria cells on average. The most germy locations in a taxi were the seat belts and the door handles.

While the numbers and types of bacteria may seem alarming, the test was run on just a handful of cars and most of the germs found were harmless.