It’s all about positioning!
My mom always told me to sit up straight. It was good for my back she said. I always had to sit close to the table too, so I wouldn’t spill food on my lap. Yes, I’ve been known to be a sloppy eater. Good advice, but not the best seating position for drivers.
I’ve seen drivers sitting too close to the steering wheel or so far back that it can really affect their control. As a driver we need to be in the best possible position so we can have maximum control over our vehicle. Having good visibility, steering control and pedal use should be key to the set up of your seat.
To allow for the best seating position for braking, place your right foot under the brake pedal. If your leg is slightly bent, it’s in a good position. This would allow you to have a slightly bent leg when your foot is pushed firmly on the brake pedal. This gives you maximum braking pressure. Your left foot should be placed on the far left side. This keeps it out of the way and allows you to brace against the firewall or “dead pedal” during emergency braking.
Your arms should have a slight bend as well. This is so you can steer easily without having your back leave the seat each time. The bend at the elbow has been suggested to be 20° with the hands placed at 10 and 2 or 9 and 3 if that’s what you do. If you tend to have longer arms and shorter legs, remember the back of the seat can be adjusted independently.
Sitting this far back, as far back as possible, will also protect you from the airbag if it deploys. The force of the airbag is intended to help keep you upright in your seat. The force is strong and it comes out fast; roughly 300 km/h. If you’re sitting too close to the wheel, it could injure you instead of protect you. Mind you, it’s still better than going through the windshield!
If you’re not so tall, you’ll either need to lower the steering wheel with the “tilt” steering, or raise the seat. If you have a mechanical seat adjustment tool you’re off and running, but if not, you’ll have to raise yourself with another means of support. For students I’ve had in the past that weren’t tall enough in the seat, they either sat on a cushion or a folded up car blanket. Hey, if you need it, use a phone book too!
The height of a driver while they sit behind the wheel is important. Their eye level must be at least 3 fingers above the top of the steering wheel. This allows them to better judge stopping positions and turn positions. I’ve often seen drivers sitting too low that, from behind, it doesn’t look as if there’s even a driver! And we all know that a car can’t drive by itself…yet!