Vehicle Ergonomics

Choosing a car – what to look for

Remember, the more adjustable features within your car, the greater likelihood of you achieving good and comfortable posture that suits you. When choosing a car pay attention to the following guidelines.

Seating

• Choose a comfortable and supportive seat which allows you to adjust the height and tilt independently of each other.

• The base of the seat should neither be too long nor too short – it should support your thighs and should be positioned to ensure adequate space between the edge of the seat and your knee, i.e. you need to avoid pressure behind your knee.

• The seat should be wider than your hips and thighs.

• Adjusting the height of the seat should allow your feet to reach the pedals without stretching. You should also be able to reach all hand controls easily and have a good view of all the display instruments, as well as good all round vision.

Back rest

• The back rest should come to shoulder height and should not obstruct your rear vision. It should be wide enough to support your shoulders.

Lumbar support

• The back rest should provide continuous support along the whole length of your back. An adjustable lumbar support may help to achieve this, but be careful – if it does not offer full adjustment this could result in pressure points of gaps.

• An adjustable lumbar support should offer up/down and in/out adjustment.

• Always ensure the lumbar support fits your shape and is comfortable.

Steering wheel

• Choose and adjustable steering wheel – one that can move in and out, up and down and can tilt.

• Power steering will take the strain off your back.

• Make sure the steering wheel is positioned centrally – if it is off-set it could put an extra strain on your spine.

• The steering wheel should not obstruct the display panel.

Pedals and gearbox

• An automatic gearbox can sometimes be helpful.

• Pedals should be centrally positioned with adequate space in between. Off-set pedals can put extra pressure on the spine.

Boot

• Choose car with appropriate sill height, easy access and enough space for your needs. The sill height should, for example not be too low, so that when manually handling loads in/out of the boot, you can do so with good, comfortable postures and therefore minimise the risk of injury.

 

 

Car environment

• Ensure you have comfortable leg and head room.

• Air conditioning will help to keep you comfortable

Good posture and regular exercise can play a key role in

preventing back pain.

Posture

Any posture, no matter how good it is, can lead to discomfort if it is held for too long. Therefore it is important to adopt a range of comfortable driving positions and to make frequent changes to avoid, or help delay, the onset of discomfort.

You should also take regular breaks and avoid driving for more than four hours a day.

The Highway Code recommends taking a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours. This should be the maximum length of time you drive without a break, and on each break, you should change your position, i.e. get out of your car and walk around.

Where possible try to avoid using your car as an office. Many of the tasks, such as using a laptop and sorting out paperwork in a car, cause you to bend forwards, resulting in increased stress on your back. Find an alternative working environment which allows you to achieve good posture.

If you experience discomfort when driving, listen to your body. Report the discomfort to your physiotherapist or ergonomist.

For more information on the research used to write this article please visit http://www.drivingergonomics.com

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