Fitting yourself properly to your vehicle and vice-versa can enhance both comfort and safety, as well as help reduce fatigue. There’s more to finding the correct driving position than just being able to reach the pedals and the steering wheel.
To properly position yourself for safe driving and good posture:
- Move the seat forward until you can place your right foot on the firewall behind the brake pedal with your knee slightly bent. This will ensure you can apply maximum brake pressure in an emergency.
- There should be about 25 cm (10 inches) between the centre of the steering wheel and your breastbone to prevent injury in case of an airbag deployment. Ensure that there is adequate clearance for thighs/knees when using the pedals and make sure the instrument panel is in full view.
- Raise the seat as high as is comfortable to improve your view of the road. Check that foot position again.
- If adjustment is possible, adjust the angle of the bottom cushion so the thighs are supported along their entire length. Avoid pressure behind the knee.
- Adjust the backrest angle so it provides continuous support along the length of your back. Place the seat back as nearly vertical as is comfortable. Reclining the seat too far, while it may seem comfortable initially, will cause excessive forward bending of the head and neck in order to reach the steering wheel. Reaching increases the pressure on the lumbar spine and can stress the neck, shoulder and wrist.
- Adjust the lumbar support (if equipped) to ensure even pressure along the length of the back rest. Ensure that the lumbar support ‘fits’ the shape of your back and is comfortable with no pressure points or gaps.
- Adjust the steering wheel for reach and safety by resting your wrists on the top of the wheel. That way when you drop your hands to the proper position on the sides of the wheel, your arms will be slightly bent.
- Place your hands at or below the level of your heart when on the sides of the wheel – between 2 and 4 o’clock for your right hand and 8 and 10 o’clock with the left – depending on where the wheel spokes are located.
- Adjust the head restraint as close to your head as possible without touching – it is a restraint, not a rest and should contact your head slightly above ear level to minimize the risk of injury if struck from behind.
- Adjust the mirrors – inside to frame the rear window, outside to display the areas in your “blind spot”, not the side of the vehicle. (See How to adjust your mirrors,)