How drivers should position themselves for comfortable and optimal driving.
In order to accommodate a wider spectrum of driver type and size, most modern cars have adjustable seating so that drivers can find their most comfortable and effective position for driving. However, one area that is regularly overlooked is the steering system. Often, the simplicity of the steering wheel masks the important role it plays.
The steering wheel’s main function is to transmit the driver’s input to the wheels of the car, allowing the driver control of the car and shifting it to the driver’s preferred direction. Most mass-marketed cars today use the rack-and-pinion steering system, where the turning of the steering wheel engages mounted pinion gears on a shaft that, in turn, translates into small angle turns of the car’s wheels. As the steering turning angle is determined by the size of the pinion gear and the rack, it usually takes a driver a few turns of the steering wheel to have the car’s wheel turn fully.
The posture and position of a driver in the car is important, as they allow the driver to be comfortable and alert. And the ideal steering wheel position gives the driver the height and reach to achieve maximum comfort and the ability to effectively control the car and react to any emergency situation on the roads.
After adjusting the seat of the car to suit the driver, the driver should next adjust the steering wheel. Most modern car models allow drivers to move the steering column up or down; some also allow drivers to pull or push the steering wheel towards or further away from them. The driver should never sit too close to the steering wheel; not only does that negate the driver’s ability to steer effectively, it could be also dangerous in the event of a collision. The driver’s arm should be at a relaxed angle when his or her hands are gripping the steering wheel.
POSITIONING THE HANDS
The ideal position of the driver’s hands should be on the outside — never on the inside — of the steering wheel in the three and nine o’clock positions. Grip by the palms of the hand in a firm but relaxed manner. In this way, the driver can turn the steering wheel close to 180 degrees to the left or right without removing the hands from the wheel. Another benefit of these hand positions is that, because the driver’s hands are slightly lower, they also reduce fatigue on the driver’s shoulders. The steering wheel should be set at a height where the hands are slightly below the driver’s heart. The higher the hand position, the more work the heart has to do to pump blood upwards into the hands.
Once adapted to this optimal steering wheel position, the driver will have a more composed and relaxed driving position and a better control of the car to effectively deal with unexpected situations.