NJ CAR has received questions from dealerships regarding when salespersons can accompany customers on test drives and what precautions the dealership should take when they accompany the customer in the vehicle. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State required that test drives only be conducted by the customer alone. The State also mandated that the vehicle be cleaned and sanitized after the test drive, if the customer does not purchase the vehicle.
The Executive Order and Administrative Order that put the requirement in place have both expired, therefore, dealerships can now allow salespersons to accompany customers on test drives. However, with COVID-19 still posing a risk to both the public and employees, dealerships should continue to take certain steps to keep their employees and customers safe.
The State of New Jersey continues to recommend that businesses take certain precautions to protect their employees and customers, a point NJ CAR has expressed in recent articles. Additionally, the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“the OSH Act”) requires that employers provide their workers with a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
NJ CAR recommends that dealerships take precautions to protect their salespersons when they conduct test drives. Dealerships may have a mix of both vaccinated and unvaccinated salespersons, with varying degrees of personal risk factors to COVID-19 and must tailor a policy to protect all employees.
Because of the confined nature of a motor vehicle, dealerships, in consultation with their Human Resources professionals and legal counsel, may implement a policy for test drives that consider recommendations including but not limited to the following:
- Require both the customer and the salesperson to wear a mask during the test drive.
- Weather permitting, keep the vehicle’s windows open to some degree during the test drive to allow for proper ventilation.
- Clean and sanitize all vehicles after every test drive if the vehicle is not purchased by the customer.
The recommendations above are at minimum a good first step to comply with OSHA requirements. Having some type of policy in place that is aimed towards protecting the dealership’s employees from the known risks of COVID-19 will go a long way in mitigating any potential OSHA citation.