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Unread 06-14-2016, 01:31 PM   #1
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Default Seating adjustments in the car

After a couple of threads posted by tall drivers concerned in fitting into car, I've decided to write a piece on the subject of positioning the seat properly from a view of both ergonomics and control.

From a coach's point of view, it can make a hell of a difference to driver comfort and control of the car. A good car is only so good, if the driver does not interact with it in an ergonomically sound manner.

First, the sitting itself. It should be square into the back of the seat, rather than slouched or croocked.

Second, the seat itself should be positioned forward towards the pedals. The driver should manage to fully depress the pedals with bent (120-150 degrees) knees.

This provides leverage and reduces the chance of orthopaedic injuries if the pedals are pushed back in a collision. When checking the brake pedal, the engine needs to be turned on the brake should be depressed several times, with the ball of the foot.

The seat should be upright but not vertical. After that, the steering wheel should be adjusted in angle and distance so as to be as parallel to the back as possible without being placed too low.

Seat height should now be adjusted for good view. The driver's eyes should be in-plane with the upper third of the windshield. Steering and seat position may need readjusting so the reach to the pedals remains adequate and the dash is visible through the wheel.

Additional adjustments like seat cushion incline should be made now. Recheck pedal access and ensure that when the brakes are fully depressed, you can still wedge your fingers under your thigh, to prove that your foot only pushes against the pedal, not the seat

Once you are happy with the position, reach one hand over the top of the wheel. The positioning is good if you can gently bend your wrist over it without outstretching or lifting your shoulderblades (behind the armpits) from the seat. It's also desireable for the hands gripping the wheel (more on that below) would be above 5cm below the shoulders, but that's not always obtainable.

It's possible to put the seat a step back if one plans a long drive down a straight, open highway. The position will be more relaxed for that sort of driving.

Hands on the wheel should be normally positioned across the diameter (so 9 and 3) rather than across a chord. In most wheels, the thumbs can exercise leverage unto the spokes in that position, while the palms remain on the outer rim. This allows to control the wheel with a very light touch, which actually improves control.

The left foot should be positioned on the dead pedal as long as possible. Push down on it around curves or during heavy braking and you will be pushed back into the seat and be in a far better position of control. The right heel should rest roughly in front of the brakes and use as a pivot for both brake application and for transition to the throttle and back.

The lower part of the seatbelt should fit snuggly over the pelvic, NOT the soft stomach. Much the discomfort that causes people not to wear belts is removed by wearing them like that. The diagonal strap should fit into the socket between the shouler and collar bone - NOT on the collarbone itself.

The head restraint should be positioned to the height of the eyebrows at least, and as close to the back of the head as possible. If it can't be positioned close enough, the entire rake should be brought to an even more upright position to achieve this.

The driver's side mirror should be adjusted to show the adjecent lane, without displaying any part of the driver's own car. In many cars, the passenger side mirror cover a smaller area and should be opened further out.

A small object (like a pole) that can be viewed at the edge of the interior mirror should be just visible in the in-board side of the passenger side mirror, so that the overlap is minimal.

As a final note: I would ensure that the driver's environment is comfortable (in terms of air conditioning, noise and so on) and that there are no redundant aftermarkets additions like seat covers, convex mirrors or generally anything that the manufacturer did not intend for it to be there.

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