Comfortable at the wheel

Published on 18.02.2021

Relaxed drive

Good seat positioning means you can not only react quickly in an emergency, but also protect your back and reduce the risk of serious injury in an accident. This is because safety systems like seat belt tensioners and airbags don’t offer any protection unless they can act on certain points on your body.

The following advice should help you to choose the best seat position:

  • If you can adjust your seat height, choose a position giving you a perfect view of the road and the dash. That said, the lower the position, the more you can depress the brake pedal in a rectilinear fashion and the more sensitive the pressure on the brake, for example. 
  • Adjust the forward seat distance until your left leg is still slightly bent when you depress the clutch pedal. To avoid unnecessary fatigue and enable you to change direction quickly, your upper body needs to be relaxed. Ideally, your pelvis needs to be sending the pressure to the pedals. Some seats have lumbar support, matching the natural curve of your spine and taking the stress off your back. 
  • When you adjust the seat back, my advice is to choose the most upright position you can. If you tilt the seat too far backwards, your back is subjected to unnecessary tension. The distance from the steering wheel is also too great. Your shoulders must always remain in contact with the seat back in all driving situations and your arms need to be bent when you’re holding the steering wheel. To check that the distance is right, lower your shoulders and extend your arms: your wrists should always be able to rest at 12 o’clock on the steering wheel. The distance between your chest and the steering wheel is then around 30 cm, depending on your body size. If the steering wheel is adjustable, you can fine-tune it for height and your chest and legs. The steering wheel should be tilted as little as possible and should not impede knee movement. Adjusting the steering wheel also affects instrument visibility, where the instruments must always be clearly visible. 
  • Headrest and seatbelts are essential safety components. The headrest must be aligned with the back of your head to avoid whiplash in an accident. Ideally, the distance between your head and the headrest should not exceed 4 cm. The seatbelt needs to cross the middle of your shoulder and fit snugly to your body. If the driver’s seat doesn’t offer all adjustment options, try to find the best compromise. The same often applies to tall people. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes impossible to get the perfect arrangement.

One final piece of advice: if the seat doesn’t support you well enough on bends, wedge yourself in by putting your left foot next to the pedals, and this will stop you gripping the steering wheel too hard.



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