Sitting behind the steering wheel seems like an easy and natural thing to do. But the way you sit in your vehicle can affect not only your comfort level but also your ability to control the car and protect yourself from emergencies as well.
Consumer Reports, a leader in automotive research, understands the importance of safe and comfortable driving. Here is their advice on how to sit behind the wheel correctly, comfortably, and safely.
Headrest and seatbelt
According to the expert tips provided by Consumer Reports, lining yourself up properly with your vehicle’s headrest ensures correct and comfortable posture everywhere else.
The top of your head (or at least the top of your ears) should line up with the top of your headrest or restraint. There should be a maximum of four inches left between the headrest and the back of your head.
While older vehicles may not have the option to adjust your seatbelt, most newer vehicles provide you with the option of moving or adjusting your seatbelt. When you put on your seatbelt, it should cross over you at the center of your left collarbone. The part of the seatbelt that goes over your lap should be low enough that it hugs your hip bones.
The lap belt should not go across your abdomen, which provides a much softer area to possible damage in an accident.
Your posture in the driver’s seat should allow you to be both alert and comfortable. It’s important to keep your body posture in alignment with your vehicle’s airbags as well, ensuring you have control over the vehicle and in the event of an accident, the airbags can do their job properly.
Luckily, today’s vehicles offer a wide variety of adjustments and customizations in the driver seat. According to PhysioMed, the backs of your knees should not touch the car seat bottom and should have a gap of about two fingers. The bend in your knees created by the seat should be at about 20-30 degrees to ensure proper posture.
Though every person’s needs are different, the inclination of the back of your seat should rest at a recline of between 10 and 20 degrees.
Each and every person is of a different height and size than the other. As you sit behind the wheel, it is crucial to understand that personalization is key. The height of your seat should be tested and moved so that you have an optimal view over your vehicle’s hood.
Minimizing blind spots is key, and if you can’t notice what’s around you or how close you are to them, you may need to adjust your seat more. According to the DriveTeam, it’s easiest to start with your seat in its lowest position, then slowly raise it until you see properly over the dash and have the proper support under your knees.
Feet and hands
Those who are shorter– or taller- than average can have a difficult time adjusting the seat for leg-length. But how your feet reach the pedals can have a strong bearing on your safety and ability to drive the car properly.
Your feet should reach each pedal easily, allowing you to brake fully, easily, and strongly. Your wrists should be able to rest easily on the top of the steering wheel without reaching. If you have to reach for the steering wheel, you are much too far away. Remember to use your steering wheel’s tilt and telescoping adjustments, as well as your seat adjustments to get yourself into the right position.
The steering wheel isn’t necessarily the driving force behind your car, you are. But how you hold on to the steering wheel and your posture in front of it is critical to the correct posture, keeping safe, and having complete control over your vehicle.
When you sit back in your adjusted driving seat, the steering wheel should be at least 10 inches from your chest. This ensures that if an airbag deploys, your body can absorb the force without injury.
And when it comes to what position your hands should be in on the steering wheel, just remember to “tell the right time.” If you look at your steering wheel like a clock, with 12 o’clock at the top and 6 o’clock at the bottom, your hands should be placed at around 3 and 9 o’clock, with your arms slightly bend.
Your arms should not be fully extended when placing your hands on the steering wheel. This hand position provides you with the optimal control but also keeps you safe from a deploying airbag in the event of a crash.
According to Geico, how you sit behind the wheel can take a toll on your body. Not only does bad posture make you more vulnerable to aches and pains, but also more susceptible to significant injury in an accident or crash. Without personalizing your seat and steering wheel to your unique needs, safety, handling, and control of the vehicle aren’t at their best.