Anyone who has undertaken a great summer roadtrip can agree that driving long distances can be a bit uncomfortable. It’s partly because you’re sitting down for such a long time, but the actual position you sit in can significantly impact on your comfort and safety too.
Luckily, there’s a few things you can do to improve the way you sit when driving that will reduce the likelihood of injury or discomfort.
How you sit in the car will affect how you feel when you reach your destination. Sit in a slightly reclined position, right back in your seat and as far as possible from the wheel without straining to reach it.
Keep your shoulders back against the seat and your head on the heat rest. The top of the head rest should be set to align with the top of the head.
Do not sit too close to the wheel, as this could lead to serious injury should an air bag be activated.
Your seat should not be so far away that you have to stretch to reach the pedals.
The car seat should be in good condition and contour to your body. Cloth and fabric car seat covers are better for comfort than leather or vinyl.
One of the main reasons driving can be hard on the body is that you are unable to move around freely. Many drivers suffer from back and leg pain as a result of sitting in the same position, and often the wrong position, without moving for too long.
It is important to shift your weight and change position as much as you can. Try to keep aligned with the steering wheel from your hand position, through to your hips and legs.
Keeping good posture will help you, as will stopping for regular breaks and stretching.
The most common recommendation for hand position on the steering wheel is 10 and 2 (imagine a clock face). This is what is taught in New Zealand driving courses and classes.
The higher grip on the steering wheel gives the driver greater control when turning and allows for smoother control should you have to turn or swerve suddenly.
However in modern cars equipped with airbags having a lower grip on the wheel does reduce your chance of injury to arms and shoulders in the case of an accident. If a driver has a higher grip on the wheel such as 10 and 2 and an air bag is deployed the drivers arms get thrown upwards causing injury. With a lower grip the drivers arms are pushed downwards decreasing the chance of serious injury to the arms and shoulders. Steering grip of 9 and 3 will also give you good posture and position.
And remember, if you are driving for a long period of time take regular breaks to stretch your legs.