How Car Ergonomics Work

Driver Seat Ergonomics

Ironically, the best way to take advantage of the driver seat's ergonomics is not to spend too much time in the seat. If you're driving long distances, you should alter your position or get out of the car to walk around and stretch at least once every two hours [source: Loughborough University].

But whether you're in the car for long or short periods, there are things you can do to minimize complications. Researchers from Loughborough University came up with several guidelines for ensuring drivers' health. These researchers created an ideal "starting position," from which the driver adjusts various controls to ensure maximum comfort, control and a good view of the road and the car's interior systems. The seat should be pushed far back, but the steering wheel, if adjustable, should be brought high and close to the driver. The seat's backrest should be reclined back 30 degrees, while the seat height and cushion should be in their lowest positions.

After this starting position is established, the seat should be raised to improve the driver's road vision. The seat should also be moved forward and up to allow the driver good control over the pedals, while not causing leg or knee pain. Adjust the backrest and lumbar support to provide adequate support; excessively declining the backrest can cause back pain and impinge on the driver's field of vision. And don't forget the headrest. It can provide crucial neck support.

The final step is adjusting the mirrors to maximize your view of the road and to minimize blind spots, but before doing that, move the steering wheel so that it allows a clean view of the controls and doesn't touch your legs while driving.

On the next page, we'll look at passenger ergonomics, and we'll also learn about some tools that engineers use in order to make cars more ergonomically friendly for passengers and drivers alike.