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Professional and commercial drivers can experience a range of musculoskeletal problems, including back, neck, shoulder and leg pain. Poor ergonomics and sitting in the same position behind the wheel for a long time are key factors in driver discomfort. So let’s make driving more comfortable. Here’s a step-by-step guide to correct car set-up, plus some simple stretches for when you take a break from the wheel.
If you share a vehicle, where your set-up position could be changed, follow these tips each time you get behind the wheel.
- Raise the seat as high as is comfortable to ensure maximum vision of the road
- Check you have adequate clearance from the roof
- Move the seat forwards until you can fully depress the clutch and accelerator pedals
- Adjust the seat height as necessary for good pedal control
- Adjust cushion tilt angle so that the thighs are supported along the length of the cushion Avoid pressure
A correctly adjusted head restraint is important to reduce the severity of a whiplash injury (caused by the head being thrown forwards and back or sideways, as can happen in car accidents). Further comfort can be made by making these changes:
- Adjust angle of the back rest so it provides continuous support along the length of the back to shoulder height
- Avoid reclining the seat too far as this will cause excessive forward bending of the head and neck, and you may feel yourself sliding forwards on the cushion
- Adjust steering wheel rearwards and downwards for easy reach
- Check for clearance for thighs/knees when using pedals
- Ensure display panel is in full view and not obstructed
- Adjust lumbar support for even pressure along the length of the back rest
- Make sure lumbar support ‘fits’ your back, is comfortable with no pressure points or gaps
- Adjust head restraint to reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
It is also important to take regular breaks to prevent neck, shoulder back injuries occurring; to help avoid fatigue, plan journeys to allow for regular breaks. The High Way Code recommend 15 minute breaks every 2 hours. During the break get out of the car stretch and walk around.