How many of you while in traffic have noticed drivers seated way too close to the steering wheel for their own good? What were your thoughts about them?
We’re willing to bet that some of you would’ve mentally whispered something like, “This fella if get into head-on accident, confirm jia lat wan”.
Imagine having the air-bags deployed with your chest so near the steering wheel. And now, with all the air-bag recalls industry wide, injury is almost certain if you were to drive in that position. And have you ever had the strongest urge to wind down your window and tell them to sit a little further back from across your car?
Why is this Optimal Driving Position fuss about, you ask? Well whether you’re travelling at low speeds, or driving on the limit, an optimal driving position ensures that you are within reach of all the essential controls easily; whether it’s the steering wheel, the gear lever, the pedal and for this country in particular, the air-con switches!
Well here’s your opportunity to spread the word out once and for all with this article on What to do and How to know if you’re in the Optimum Driving Position.
It’s always recommended that a driver sits as low as possible to the chassis when behind the wheel. This allows the driver to feel and gauge the “behaviour” of the car which is especially handy when the car is cornering through a bend.
Now of course, we understand not every car will have seats with height adjustments, and that the seated height differs with every individual. But take note that when it comes to seat positioning, you shouldn’t be sitting 90-degrees upright as though you’re having a passport picture taken or leaning too much backwards like you’re on a lazy chair.
After adjusting the seat to your liking and comfort, your shoulders should still be leaning on the seat while your hands are on the steering wheel.
We don’t have to stress how important the pedals are when you’re operating a car and how important it is to have full control of them.
So how do you gauge whether you have an optimal reach of the pedals? With your seat optimally adjusted, your knees should still be slightly bent when you’ve pressed the pedals all the way to the end. This is to allow your feet to have full contact on the pedals to modulate them easily.
"Like clinging on to a cliff with your fingertips".
Try sitting in a position where your legs are straight-stretched and you’re only pressing the pedals with the tip of your shoe – it’s like hanging on to a cliff with a fistful grip compared to just hanging on by your fingertips; not ideal.
The point of reference to know if you’ve seated properly is to have a full reach of the steering wheel by gauging it with your wrists. Yes, your wrist.
When you’ve optimised your seating position which allows you to reach the steering wheel, gear lever and see out of the car, place your wrists on the top of the steering wheel. Your wrists should be dead centre on the top of the steering wheel and again your shoulders should be rested on the seat.
Notice how both hands didn't rub against the knees? This prevents you from having any obstruction should you need to turn rapidly.
And if you own a car with a telescopic steering adjustment feature that allows you to move your steering forward and backwards, up and down, put both hands on the steering in what we call the “9:15” position, try turning the steering till your hands cross. Your arms here, should have a slight bend on them too. During that process, the steering should be high enough where your hands wouldn’t be rubbing against your knees without your shoulders having to move forward.
Imagine a clock pointing at 9:15 - with the left hand indicating the hour and the right showing the minutes.
*Be sure to not try all this out while you’re actually driving. Make sure your vehicle is stationary and try finding your ideal driving position. Now you know why some of your “driving enthusiast” friends get annoyed when their seat had been readjusted!
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