By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Paying attention to ergonomics while driving is always a good idea. When you are driving long distance it is especially important. Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. Stop at least once an hour to get out of the car and stretch.
2. When you get out of the car, open the door and swing both of your legs to the door before you step out. Avoid twisting as much as possible.
3. Your back should be supported by the full length of the seat’s backrest. Vary the position of your seat periodically. Vary the amount of recline and also the amount of lumbar support if your car has that feature.
4. There should be 10-12″ between the steering wheel and your chest. This is the ideal distance for the seat belt and airbag to protect you in case of a crash. Also, if you sit too close to the steering wheel your wrists will bend. Avoid this by sitting back a little.
5. If the steering wheel is adjustable, adjust it so it is not in the way of your legs. It should be directly in front of your chest since there is an airbag in most steering wheels. Having it angled towards your head or stomach is dangerous when an airbag opens.
6. The headrest should be as high as the top of your head and ideally be touching the back of your head. This will help prevent neck fatigue and reduce the severity of whiplash in case of a collision.
7. Move the seat forward enough so that you can move the pedals through their complete range of motion with your entire foot, not just your toes. Adjusting the seat height can also help with this.
8. Your upper arms should be able to be at your sides while driving. Things to avoid are over reaching for your steering wheel and leaning on the door or center console. If you need to support your arms on a long trip, a small pillow or a rolled up jacket in your lap can work.
9. If your seat has an adjustable seat cushion angle, tilt it so that the backs of your legs are supported without there being any uncomfortable compression on the backs of your legs or knees. Adjust the seat height and tilt (when possible) to have the hips at or above knee level.
10. Your lap seat belt should be positioned low. It should be on your hip bones and touching the tops of your thighs. In case of a crash, this helps protect your internal organs and spinal cord.