Here’s a thought: That rental car, taxi, Uber or Lyft car you are riding in is absolutely lousy with bacteria.

Now if you can move on from that general feeling of disgust, we’ll divulge just how dirty the various modes of transport truly are these days.

Insurance website NetQuote recently released a study entitled, “Driving with Germs.”

It’s the kind of report that will have you squirming in the back seat of your respective taxi or reaching for the bottle of Purell. It’s pretty great.


Image courtesy NetQuote (What kind of bacteria is lurking in your vehicle?)

The impetus behind the study was quite simple: Discover how dirty ride-sharing can be for the casual traveler.

As noted, some bacteria aren’t all that dangerous and remain fairly benign. What NetQuote highlights are the colony-forming units, which is defined as “the number of viable bacteria in cells present in a sample.”

Going by this example, taxis have something to celebrate, which is a rare occurrence nowadays. These magical places are relatively clean when it comes to other modes of transport.

Now to put that into perspective, the study further broke down what type of germs we are talking about.

The graph highlights the distribution of things like gram-positive cocci (interesting buggers that cause infections, pneumonia and septicemia) and gram-negative rods (as noted, “90-95 percent are harmful to humans”)

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Now you can ride with the benefit of know what kind of slop in which you are sitting. It kind of makes the trip from the airport more intriguing, we think.

When looking at the various surfaces that remain likely culprits for hiding germs, the obvious places get a spotlight.

bacteria graph

(Image courtesy NetQuote)

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem like many riders fiddle with window buttons while in taxis. That or we may have found the most bacteria resistant spot in the universe.

As for advice on staying healthy, the key seems to wipe down the usual places – spots in the car that would get regular use.

And, most importantly, keep your hands away from your face. Sobbing gently to yourself as you contemplate the miniscule world around you is optional.