Car Ergonomics That Will Keep You Comfortable and Safe
If you spend a lot of time in your car, you know the aching feeling of lower back or neck pain. Sitting in a car is different from sitting in a chair or at a desk. Your arms are raised to hold the steering wheel, your legs are at different angles, and you feel constant vibrations and bumps from the road. If you haven’t adjusted your seat properly, this can take a serious toll on your body. No matter how much you drive, being comfortable in the car makes your experience safer and more enjoyable. Even if you think you have your seat set up just right, take another look. Following these steps will lead you to a perfectly adjusted and comfortable seat.
- The average American driver spends about 290 hours behind the wheel every year.
- If you’re driving for a long time, taking a stretch break once every 2 hours is recommended.
- About 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
To start, push the seat as far back as it will go. If your steering wheel is adjustable, bring it high and far forward. Recline the seat back to a 30-degree angle, and move the seat height and cushion as low as possible.
How To Adjust The Seat:
Raise Seat: Raise the seat bottom as high as is comfortable while making sure you have a clear view of the road. Make sure you can see over the steering wheel and have room between your head and the roof.
Move Seat Forward: Move the seat forward until you can easily push the pedals with your entire foot. Re-adjust seat height if necessary to have good pedal control.
Tilt Seat: Adjust seat tilt until your thighs are fully supported. Make sure there are a few fingers of distance between the seat and your knees so there is no pressure behind them.
Adjust Backrest: Adjust the backrest so that it supports and makes contact with your entire back, all the way up to your shoulders. If you lean it back too far, you end up bending your neck forward, which can tire the muscles out.
Adjust Steering Wheel: Move the steering wheel back and down until it is within comfortable reaching distance. The center of the steering wheel should be about 10 to 12 inches from your chest. Make sure there’s enough space between your knees and the wheel while you’re using the pedals.
Adjust Head Restraint (Headrest): Raise the head restraint until it is level with the top of your head. If possible, adjust the angle so that it is almost touching the back of your head.
Ergonomics and Safety:
Car ergonomics are important for keeping the driver comfortable, but they also offer many safety benefits.
Visibility: If your seat is not adjusted properly (especially if it’s too low) you might not be able to see out of all of your windows or have a good view of all of your mirrors and dashboard controls, including your backup camera monitor.
Crash Safety: Sitting properly is important in the case of a crash. If you are too close to the steering wheel, the airbag will hit you while it is still inflating with great force, rather than cushion you while it is deflating. You need to be at least 10 inches away from it for the best results.
Whiplash: The head restraint is important for preventing neck injuries during a crash. When a vehicle is hit and pushed forward the passengers’ torsos move forward with the seat. If the head is not supported by the head restraint it will lag behind the torso, causing the neck to stretch. In a severe crash, the forces on the neck are higher and can cause it serious injury.
Become a Well-Adjusted Driver
Remember, there is no such thing as an “average-sized” person. Everyone is unique, so their seat adjustments should be too. Being in pain is not normal and not necessary. Drive safely and comfortably instead.