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How to Adjust Seating to the Proper Position While Driving

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Many drivers do not position themselves correctly in their cars, and therefore seriously lack control and comfort while driving. A good driving position can actually help preventing accidents, improve safety should an accident occur, and improve driving comfort anyhow which will help to prevent the lack of your body and pains that come from your back.

  1. Proper clothing: Driving should be done with clothing that is not limiting the driver. In the winter, coats can interfere with proper steering, as well as with proper adjustment of the seat and with the operation of the seatbelts. Prefer light and comfortable clothes.
    • A driver and front passenger must wear a shirt and the driver is also advised to wear a set of pants that run all the way down to the knee, even if it means wearing a set of pants over the shorts or swim-suit.
    • Footwear is obligatory. The shoes have to be placed snuggly on the feet (unlike slippers) and fit nicely on the pedals (unlike boots, muddy soles or high heels). A shoe with a thin but slightly densed sole is ideal.

  2. Position yourself correctly in the seat itself. Make sure you sit straight and that your buttocks and back and square and completely squeezed into the seat. This helps in avoiding backaches, possible back injuries and maintains awareness during long drives.
  3. Make initial adjustments:
    • Adjust seat height for clear forward vision
    • Adjust the angle of the seat's cushion for a slight tilt
    • Adjust steering for relativelly neutral height and a bit towards you.
  4. Seat distance: The first and easiest parameter. It is adjusted according to the pedals. Press the brake pedal fully with your right foot, and fully depress the clutch (in a manual transmission car) or dead pedal (in an automatic). The distance should be adjusted so that with fully depressed pedals, you knees remain bent (about 120 degrees).
    • To make sure your check is accurate, first start the engine, and press on the brakes a few times before performing the check, to build up pressure.
    • If the knee bottoms-out, you are too far back. If it's close to 90 degrees, it's too close.
    • A fully extended leg results in the knee locking-up. This reduces the leverage and feel of the pedals, increases effort and puts you in risk of severe injuries to the feet in a collision -- the straight knee will be fractured where the bent knee would fold down. Furthermore, the bone would project the shock up to the pelvic and lower spine.
    • A knee extensively bent (when the driver seats too close) at an angle of about 100 degrees, does not support the body effectively and results in bad blood circulation. It can also hit the underdash in a collision.
    • The thighs should be placed as apart as comfortable. Most people can create wide enough of a base as to lean their knees against the center console on one side and the door on the other.
    • The feet should be placed with the ankles on the floor, and the balls of the feet pressing against the pedals. The right foot in particular should be able to pivot between the throttle and brake pedal, while the heel is placed roughly in front of the brakes. This might mean that you don't cover the brake pedal fully when pressing it (the foot slightly offset to the right) and that pressing the throttle is done with the foot in an angle and contacts the pedal close to it's lower edge. This is the correct way to utilize the feet.
    • The left foot should be resting over the dead-pedal whenever not working on the clutch (in an automatic - at all times). This increases support to the pelvic, and allows to brace the body by applying pressure against the footrest in corners or in events of strong braking, instead of hanging onto the pedals or steering.
    1. Adjusting the rake of the seat: Should be adjusted as parallel as possible to the steering. It is impossible to reach a perfect adjustment (and it's also not really nessecary), but by adjusting the rake of the seat to an upright angle of about 110-95 degrees, we can reach a suitable adjustment.
      • We cannot reach a perfect adjustment because placing the seat too upright will put pressure on the lower vertebrae, place our head to high, and because the steering itself is placed in an angle. We can adjust the seat back to a relativelly upright position and than use the adjustment of the steering itself to place it as parallel to the back as possible.
      • After adjusting the seat, including the height and the adjustments to the steering itself (bellow), we check the adjustment in the following manner: We place the wrist of our hand just over the topmost portion of the wheel. We should be able to place the wrist flat over the wheel and even bend it somewhat over the rim, while still keeping the shoulders (shoulder-blades) against the seat's back. This should be done with the arm straight but without putting in excessive effort.
        • If our wrist only touches the face of the wheel (rather than be placed flat over it), or it we can only put the heel of the palm on the wheel, or if we need to lean our scapulae (shoulder-blades) forward -- we are too far to the back. This will make us lean our back forward somewhat when we steer.
        • If we can touch the top of the wheel with our forearm or touch the top of the wheel with the wrist with the hand bent, we are too close to the wheel.
        • In vehicles with large, horizontal steering rims (mainly trucks), we cannot reach such a posture and we just need to check that we can grip the topmost portion of the wheel without locking the elbow fully .

    6.Steering height: Where adjustable, the steering height should be adjusted to as parallel to back angle, and to a clear view of the dashboard through the rim. The ideal adjustment should also allow us to grip the wheel properly (at 9 and 3, see below), with our palms just lower than our shoulders.
    7.Steering distance: Where adjustable, should be adjusted with the steering wheel height, to as parallel to the back as possible. While gripping the wheel properly, our elbows should be bent at about 120 degrees.
    8.Seat height: Should allow us to see forward clearly, while still having a clear view of the dashboard, and proper height relative to the wheel and pedals. In most cars, the proper height for forward vision should allow us to place five fingers (a hand width) between our head and the ceiling.
    • In cars with open or high ceiling, adjust so that you eyes are placed just above the center of the glass, without the visor obstructing your forward vision when open.
    • After readjusting the height, recheck the feet to make sure the height adjust had not compromised it.
    9.Hand position: Your hands should both be on the wheel, at the 9 and 3 position. This increases the leverage on the wheel to a maximum. Your palms should be placed against the outer diameter of the wheel and the thumbs should be lightly hooked on the crossbrace of the wheel.
    • Grip and stabilize the wheel not only with the thumbs and/or palms, but mainly with your fingers and fingertips. In general, keep the grip of the wheel as light as possible without losing your control over the wheel. This results in better control and less fatigue.
    • Keep both hands on the wheel. Steering with one hand makes the weight of the hand work on the wheel, for which the shoulder muscles must be used to keep the wheel steady, resulting in a twist of the spine, especially if you get into the (bad) habit of holding the wheel from it's top.
    10.Additional adjustments:
    • Lumbar support: Should provide equall pressure across the whole length of the back. For drivers with lumbar problems without such an adjustment, you can use or two rolled towels.
    • Side Bolsters: Should be adjusted for the maximum possible hip support without limiting the ability to depress all pedals fully.
    • Seatbase reclining: Should keep the thigh in fully contact with the seat. Avoid too much reclining which will create pressre behind your knees, or interfere with strong braking (you should not apply pressure against the seat).
    • Pedal adjustments: Should allow operation of the pedals as described above as comfortably as possible. You should be able to place your heel roughly in front of the brakes, place your foot on the brakes with the slightest possible offset to the right, and pivot as easily as possible towards the throttle pedal on the right, while keeping your knee bent at about 100 degrees.


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