Guidelines to sit correctly at the wheel

What position should the backrest be in? And the head rest?

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Road Safety

What position should the backrest be in? And the head rest? What is the appropriate distance between the driver and the steering wheel?A correct position is essential for good driving and to ensure your own safety and that of your passengers.Don´t miss out on these guidelines for a good posture at the wheel!

A good seating position makes the driver more comfortable and attentive to driving.A good position makes it is easier to reach the wheel and the instruments on the dashboard, and to avoid back pain. Besides, it reduces the chances of long-term effects in the event of a traffic injury. You just need a few minutes to settle in properly:

  • Adjusting the seat and distance: sit down and press the clutch pedal all the way down.You must fully stretch out your leg with a slight bend in the knee. Get into a comfortable position that requires no effort to change your foot to the accelerator, clutch or brake. In automatic cars, the perfect seat distance will be dictated by the position of the steering wheel. You can also try pressing the brake and accelerator pedals to adjust your position.
  • Seat height: start from the lowest position and raise the seat until you have perfect visibility. Nothing should interfere with your vision, not even the steering wheel.
  • Backrest: it should not be too inclined or too close to the steering wheel. Your back should be as straight as possible, but still comfortable.
  • Headrest: it should be positioned at the same height as the most prominent part of our head, if possible slightly touching your hair, in order to avoid the infamous cervical whiplash. That is, the top of the headrest should be aligned with the top of your head.

Please bear in mind that the headrest protects you mainly in the event of a rear impact – in that case, the head moves abruptly backwards –, but also when there is a very sudden braking or even a frontal impact (here your head and body move forward in the first place, and backwards immediately afterwards).

If you can adjust the angle, it should be as close as possible to the back of our head:the fewer the head movements, the lower the chance of cervical whiplash and injuries.

  • The steering wheel: ideally, the steering wheel should be positioned so that its centre is at the same height as your neck. We recommend you flex your arms and place both hands on the steering wheel in a quarter-to-three position. Your elbows should be at 90 degrees. If you place both hands on the steering wheel in a twelve o’clock position, your arms should not be completely stretched out. We must insist on the importance of keeping your hands on the wheel.
    It is best to place them in a quarter-to-three position. This way you can manoeuvre easily.
  • Rear-view mirrors: you should be able to see the side of our vehicle and the side lane with a slight nod of the head. Ideally, you should have a maximal field of vision in all mirrors with minimal head movement.

What if you are pregnant?

In general, pregnant women can drive and travel in cars, using the seat belt normally, unless their doctor says otherwise.In this sense, driving is not recommended when it is impossible for a pregnant woman to get into a comfortable position or when her belly is too close to the steering wheel. 

Factors to consider:

  • There should be more than 20 cm between the steering wheel and the pregnant woman’s belly. 
  • Pregnant women should always wear the seatbelt properly: the lap strap should sit just below the abdomen and just above the hip bones. The shoulder strap should pass over the middle area of the sternum and collar bone – without being too close to the neck – and between the breasts. Please remember that the upper strap should not lie directly across the pregnant woman’s belly or over one of her breasts and that it should not go underneath the arm or armpit. If your doctor advises against using the seatbelt, the best option is to avoid travelling in vehicles as much as possible.
  • Cushions or pillows must not be used on the seat and neither should belt fasteners. Whenever possible you should avoid doing anything that might loosen the seat belt or affect its functioning in any other way.
  • In view of the above, the seat position and height of the steering wheel must be adapted to your new needs. The distance between the seat and the steering wheel or dashboard should be increased as far as possible (there is no need to deactivate the airbag) and the mirrors should be adjusted if the seat has been moved. You should also adjust the height and position of the steering wheel. Make sure it is tilted towards your chest; never towards your head or your abdomen. You should also try to ensure that the seat is in a vertical position.
  • On long journeys, please take more breaks and use them to walk and activate your circulation.
  • If you wish to drive after giving birth, the usual recommendation is to wait 3 weeks after an uncomplicated delivery and at least 6 weeks after a C-section. We recommend consulting your healthcare provider (gynaecologist, obstetrician or midwife).