Ergonomics Wednesday – 9 – Let Good Ergonomics Drive Your Comfort

Last week I got to rhapsodizing on the ergonomics of sitting comfortably. I did this because modern chair design seems to be a contest to see who can best recreate all the comforts of medieval torture devices, while charging the highest prices.

Well, the seated position isn’t something that is confined to just chairs, seat, benches, sofas, etc. There is a place where you spend a lot of time sitting, costs a crapload of money, and isn’t (at least not officially) a chair.

Where is that place? Your car.

Automobile Ergonomics

The average American commute is about ½ an hour. That may not seem like much, and I suppose it isn’t, but it adds up. An hour a day, is 5 hours a week, is 250 hours a year, or, 10 full days behind the wheel,  and that’s just for work. We drive a lot.

Fortunately, the car companies know that we come in all shapes and sizes, and have manufactured their products accordingly. This allows you to adjust your driving environment to maximize your own comfort.

  • The driver’s seat in all cars moves forward and back. Adjust the distance so your knees are comfortably bent, and positioned slightly above your hips.
    • If your driver’s seat adjusts vertically, set the height along with the front to back distance to set this distance
  • Adjust the tilt of your seat to allow you to lean slightly back when driving. You do not want to be sitting rigidly upright behind the wheel
    • Use the lumbar support to press gently on your low back
  • If your seat has adjustable armrests, set them so your shoulder is supported when your elbow is on the rest.
    • Make sure your shoulder is lightly supported, but not pushed up
  • Adjust the tilt of your steering wheel so your elbows are bent when gripping the wheel
    • If your steering wheel moves in and out, use this along with the tilt to set your distance
  • Adjust your windshield rear view mirror so that your perfect back viewing position has your head level, with the back of your skull touching the headrest
  • Adjust your wing mirrors so your perfect back viewing position is the same as for the windshield mirror

For whatever periods of time you are stuck in your car, you should be comfortable. Take advantage of the adjustability of your seats, mirrors and steering wheel to ensure that you are comfortable.