Driver seat comfort: how do you feel at the wheel?

Author: JT Hughes

The correct driver seat position for you.

drivers seat position

It’s not uncommon to see many drivers, who are visiting the beautiful scenery of Shropshire from afar, climbing from their vehicles clutching their backs in agony, but poor posture while driving can be more than a simple annoyance.

Achieving an optimum sitting position in the driver’s seat can not only make the longest journeys more comfortable, but can also help to prevent accidents and give you added protection in the unfortunate situation that your car is involved in a collision.

To achieve perfect posture when driving, it’s important to observe some simple rules before you depart, remembering that the previous driver (if you share the responsibility for driving your vehicle) may enjoy a totally different position to you:

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Dress for success.

Dressing appropriately for driving is an essential, if apparently unrelated, step towards achieving the best possible posture in your seat.

Even in cold weather, you will be more comfortable if you dress in lighter clothes, rather than wearing thick coats that may obstruct safe and proper steering. Shoes should be flat rather than having a high heel that will cause you to hold your feet at an uncomfortable angle for the duration of the journey; if necessary, keep a separate pair of shoes just for driving in the car so that you can still wear your other footwear for work or social outings.

Set the seat distance.

When adjusting the position of the seat, you should always focus on its distance from the pedals rather than the steering wheel. With the car engine turned off, press on the clutch fully. Your knee should be slightly bent with the pedal fully depressed, so that you don’t have to stretch your foot too far.

Not being able to fully depress the clutch will lead to premature clutch wear and possible damage to the gears, as well as causing your knee to lock, while sitting too close to the pedals can cause your circulation to slow down.

Set the seat height.

If your seat has height adjustment, you should set this to ensure that you have sufficient space between your head and the ceiling of the cabin, while maintaining a clear view of the road.

With the seat height adjusted, you should be able to place your feet flat on the floor. However, if you are exceptionally tall, you may find that you need to compromise to achieve the perfect seat height.

Set the steering height.

Most car models enable you to adjust the height of the steering wheel, in order to accommodate drivers of different heights. To achieve the optimum steering height, you should be able to grip the steering wheel in the normal position (that’s at 9 and 3 on a clock, not one-handed on top of the steering wheel), so that your hands are slightly below the level of your shoulders.

You should be able to see the dashboard clearly, without the instrumentation being obstructed.

Set the recline position.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how far to recline your seat, but if you’re left grasping for the steering wheel, you’ve almost certainly reclined too far.

While the perfect recline position is a matter of personal choice, as a rule of thumb your shoulders should be slightly behind your hips instead of in line with them. Also, you should be able to slightly bend your elbows when gripping the steering wheel.

Adjust the lumbar position.

The lower back is one of the most common areas where drivers develop pain after travelling with poor posture for even a short amount of time, so giving your spine additional lumbar support is an effective way of alleviating the problem.

The lumbar adjustment means you can support the lower part of the spine, so adjust it until you feel it comfortably sitting across the small of your back, so that the base of your spine is pushed forwards slightly. If you find you are still slouching, the lumbar is not supporting you adequately, while over-adjusting it means you are likely to be pushed forward on your seat. Experimentation is ideal to find the most comfortable position.

If you find partway through a journey that you’re still experiencing back pain, it is well-worth stopping and stretching your legs before adjusting your seat again to find the most supportive position. If you share the vehicle with others, you could invest in an electronic seat with a memory function, so that you can return it to your preferred position at the press of a button.

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