NEARLY two-thirds of Brits are putting their health at risk by cleaning the inside of their vehicle SIX TIMES A YEAR or less, new research has revealed.
The shocking findings come from an independent survey carried out by leading vehicle leasing firm Select Car Leasing, which quizzed 1,000 drivers about their motoring habits.
Others who only hoover and wipe down the inside of their cars once every 12 months could even face hefty fines if their lack of hygiene affects their vision on the roads.
A whopping 38 per cent of respondents admitted that they only clean their vehicle’s interior once every couple of months, while 16 per cent said they did it just once a year.
A further nine per cent revealed they carried out the necessary chore less than once every 12 months – making a total of 61 per cent who didn’t keep on top of keeping their cars spick and span.
Females were the worst culprits, with more than two-thirds (67 per cent) saying they clean inside their cars less than once every two months. That’s compared to 58 per cent of men.
And people in the West Midlands were found to have the worst car cleaning habits, with 14 per cent admitting to neglecting their motors for over a year.
The findings come after motoring experts warned UK drivers could be severely punished if they were found to have dirty windscreens.
The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states: “All glass or other transparent material fitted to a motor vehicle should be maintained in such condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver while the vehicle is being driven on a road.”
If a windscreen isn’t clear and that leads to an accident you could be charged with careless driving, which carries an immediate £100 fine. If serious, it could be as much as £5,000 and nine penalty points on your licence.
Select Car Leasing director James O’Malley said: “We know people treat the insides and outsides of their cars differently – some taking pride in not having a speck of dirt while others aren’t bothered about having crisp packets and other rubbish littering the footwells.
“So it’s fascinating to get some real data on the cleaning habits of car users in the UK.
“Obviously it is a personal choice, but it certainly makes sense to keep your vehicle clean and tidy to make sure it stays in as good condition as possible and safe for all users.
“Another thing that’s well worth considering is that a dirty car is not only a health hazard – drivers can also be fined up to £5,000 if the state of their interior means their view is obstructed.
“For the sake of a couple of pounds on a car valet, or getting a vacuum and some cleaning cloths out and doing yourself at home, there really is no excuse.”
While many think that abandoning car-cleaning duties is not a big deal, it has been estimated by microbiologists at Nottingham University there are roughly between 282 and 700 bacteria per square centimetre in the average vehicle.
With the average Brit spending nine hours per week driving, that could leave them at risk of serious health problems.
Dr Diana Gall, from online medical service Doctor-4-U, said: “It’s seriously concerning the number of people who are not taking care of their cars.
“As the research shows, there are so many germs that can be picked up from dirty car interiors.
“With the amount of time that the average person spends in their car per week, it’s surely worth the extra time and money to make sure it is of a certain standard.”
Diseases that could potentially be caught from germ-infested steering wheels include MRSA and Staphylococcus bacteria, which can lead to skin infections and food poisoning.
When it comes to exteriors, more than half of those quizzed revealed they cleaned the outside of their car every couple of months or less.
The region happiest with muddy bumpers was South West England, where 71 per cent admitted they didn’t jet-wash their motor more than six times a year.
Meanwhile, Londoners came out most ‘car proud’, with more than half (56%) claiming to wash their wheels at least once a month.
Women were once again more guilty of neglecting the chore, with a staggering 60 per cent cleaning their vehicle exteriors less than every couple of months compared to 47 per cent of men.
Established in 2004, Select Car Leasing is one of the UK's largest independent specialists for car leasing as well as commercial and van leasing.