Before you set off for a drive, it is ideal to find the right seating position when you get behind the wheel. Finding the right driving position isn’t just important from the point of view of comfort but also from the perspective of safety. Being seated correctly behind the wheel ensures that you have better visibility, your limbs can react faster to dangerous situations; and in most cases, also prevents back pain.
Here are some points that you should keep in mind when adjusting the seat.
1. Reach the pedals
To begin, bring the seat forward and check if you can depress the pedals fully. Then go back a notch at a time until you can just about depress the pedals fully without stretching your leg. For your arms, keep them stretched over the wheel; the ideal position will be to have your wrist resting at the top of the wheel. This way you have better control and your elbows are not too close to your body while turning.
2. Seat height
From the lowermost position, start increasing the height until your hips are either at the same height as your knees, or slightly lower. At this point, check if you can still operate the pedals with ease. Your knees should be slightly bent, as having them straight while driving isn’t safe in case of a crash. See that you have a good view of the road ahead. If you feel that you need to be even higher, go up one notch and check your pedal position again.
3. Backrest angle
The angle of your backrest is one of the most basic adjustments and is highly dependent on your personal preference. The ideal angle of recline is somewhere between 100-110 degrees (this zone puts less pressure on your back). An upright angle can cause discomfort early into the drive, while a more laid-back recline angle can hamper your visibility while driving.
4. Steering wheel
Some cars have a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach. This offers drivers a better shot at finding their ideal driving position. When adjusting the steering rake (up and down movement) choose a position that allows you to view the instrument cluster without being obstructed by the wheel. Avoid placing the steering too low, as it may interfere with your knees during sharp turns, while placing it too high will cause stress on your shoulders. While comfortably seated, adjust the reach so as to place your wrists on the top of the steering wheel with ease.
This feature is for safety and not comfort – and its full-form is 'head restraint'. While most cars just offer height adjustment for the restraint, some cars also offer to-and-fro adjustment. When adjusting the headrest's height, make sure that its centre is aligned at eye-level when looking straight forward. Also, ideally, the distance between the back of your head and the headrest should be minimal. The headrest prevents whiplash injuries, in the event of your car getting rear-ended.
6. Seat-base angle
In most modern cars, the front of the seat base is slightly higher than the rear. This raises your thighs, slightly and pushes you further into the seat, ensuring a more comfortable seating position. Some cars also offer the option of adjusting its angle of tilt. Place the seat base at a comfortable angle that makes pedal operation easy without stressing the thigh muscles.
Adjust the rear-view mirrors once you've set your correct driving position. Adjust them for optimal rear visibility. Keep the side of the car slightly visible in the outside rear-view mirrors, as a reference point.