High Society Kustom Garage

Safety and comfort

Sitting.

It’s something we do every day, and it’s something that usually requires zero thought.  We can pull up any horizontal surface, and if we deem it safe enough, just flop ourselves down.  But should we sometimes put a little thought into what really is a simple, everyday action?  Safety and comfort are more entwined than you may imagine.  Bad posture, comfort and muscle health are closely linked.  Certain situations also call for more attention, so yes, we most definitely should.  In a job interview or out on a date, slouching in your seat can make a bad first impression.  There, bad posture can end things before they begin, but in a moving car, things can be even more important.
Modern car seating is designed not just as a convenient spot to rest your rear end. It’s designed as a piece of equipment to keep you comfortable AND safe. But like any other piece of equipment, it can only do what it was designed to do when being used as designed to be used.

Safety

A fundamental part of learning to drive should be sitting posture and correctly adjusting your seat. Statistics show one of the major causes of accidents is distraction. If drivers are constantly focusing on getting comfortable, they are spending less time with their eyes on the road. Airbags, seatbelts, side intrusion bars, and crumple zones can all cause significant injuries to occupants outside of their designed parameters. Seatbelts worn too high have led to soft tissue injuries, small bowel perforation and the rupture of solid organs. Fractured ribs, sternum and clavicle and neck vertebrae have also been reported.
Apart from the driver, instructing passengers on how to sit correctly can assist their safety in case of an accident. There have been reported cases of passengers with feet up on dashboards suffering horrific injuries when an airbag is deployed. They end up with their knees hurtling towards their faces at sensational speeds. Sitting off centre, with legs placed between the seat base and the door can be equally damaging. Instances of lower limb amputation and assisted extraction are significantly increased in moderate speed side impacts.
So, what is the correct seating position for comfort and safety? All passengers are to be sitting with their legs facing the front of the vehicle, with their bottom and shoulders as close as possible to the backrest. On vehicles with adjustment for the top mounting point of the seatbelt, move this down so the belt runs over the shoulder and across the chest.

Driving position

Adjusting your car seat for better safety and comfort

As for driving position, the basics remain the same, bottom and shoulders as close as possible to the backrest.  Raise the seat as far as possible so that your hips are slightly below knee height when the seat is back far enough that the knees are slightly bent with the pedals pushed all the way in with your legs relaxed and heels on the floor.  Lower the seat a little if you need to tilt your head forward or to the side to see clearly out the windows.

Tilt the backrest 100-110° maintaining shoulder contact with the seat while the steering wheel is turned with slightly bent elbows.  On seats with extendable cushions (bases), extend until there is about 35 millimetres between the seat and the hollow of the knee.  Adjust the lumbar support so that it just fills the hollow of your back when sitting in the correct position.  Only when the seat has been correctly adjusted can the mirrors be set properly.  The aim is to reduce as many blind spots with as little head movement as possible.  Safety and comfort once again are hand in hand.

Mirrors

Unfortunately, this is another area of road safety incorrectly taught to those being taught to drive.  In 1995 the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) published a paper that stated the best way to reduce blind spots.  If you can see your car in your side mirrors, the mirrors are angled incorrectly.  Pushing them out slightly is all it takes to correct this, which is a little disorienting at first.  Most of us are used to seeing the side of our car, so this can take some getting used to.  The idea is to have the side mirrors angled out to create a small overlap with the rear view mirror.  You should be able to see the whole of the back window when using this mirror.  You should only need to move your eyes, not your head to do this.  This illustration by Chris Philpot helps explain (source Car and Driver):

Hopefully this information has taught you a few things to keep you and your family just a little more safe.  With any luck the extra comfort makes it all the more enjoyable.

For your copy of the Preparing for your custom interior ebook, sign up here

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.