15 Sep PROPER DRIVER POSITIONING: SAFE DRIVING TIPS
PROPER DRIVER POSITIONING
In order to maintain balanced, smooth control over your car, you should be in the proper driving position.
- Your hands should be positioned on the outside of the steering wheel at the 4 and 8 position or at the 3 and 9 positions.
- Your head rest should be adjusted so the top of your ears are at the top of the head rest.
- Your left foot should be on the dead petal.
- Your right foot should be able to go from the accelerator to the brake without lifting your foot from the floor.
Additional resources: www.drivesmartva.org
Be 10-12 inches from the steering wheel
Place your wrist over the wheel at 12 o’clock
In order to sit comfortably and good control over the car with a balanced motion you should be 10-12 inches from the steering wheel or at a distance where your wrist rest comfortably on the steering wheel at 12:00 with a slight bend in the elbow.
Position the steering wheel toward your chest
The steering wheel should be slanted toward your chest or body and not your face. The potential danger of the air bags deploying makes this distance necessary for your protection. The air bag deploys at 200 mph in 1/25th of a second. It is impossible get out of the way in time to avoid contact, and the impact can cause damage to the face, arms or hands.
Position your hands on the outside of the steering wheel
Your hands should be positioned on the outside of the steering wheel resting your thumb on the outside at the 4:00 and 8:00 position or 3:00 and 9:00 position. These positions allow you to have the best control over your vehicle and be out of danger if the air bag deploys. The 9 and 3 (or 8 and 4), position, also stabilizes your body in the seat, allowing you to place your back squarely against the seat and your arms comfortably at the side. At this position arm cross over will inhibit over steer in avoidance situations as well.
Use the push, pull slide method of steering
Using the push, pull slide method of steering you can virtually allow your hands to stay in this side to side position, thus enabling a quick emergency response. The “push, pull, slide” method of steering allows you to keep your hands on either side of the wheel while you feed one hand to the other. In a right hand turn the left hand would not exceed the 10:00 position and the right hand would not exceed the 4:00 position, but one hand would “feed” the wheel to the other in short movements. As you turn the corner you would let the wheel “slide” between your fingers as you accelerate, letting the wheels straighten on their own. In tight turns you can use the hand-over- hand steering technique.
Position your left hand at 12:00 for backing straight
The only time your hand should be in the 12:00 position is when you are backing up straight. For this maneuver, you would place your right hand at 12:00, your left foot on the dead pedal and your right hand behind the passenger side seat. Using this position you have good control over the wheel and are able to lift yourself up with your left foot, using the dead pedal in order to see over the back end of the car. When backing to the left or right, keep your hands in the 8 and 4 or 9 and 3 position and look over your respective shoulders.
Position your right foot to move smoothly
Your right foot should be placed on the gas pedal with your toes and the ball of your foot used to operate the pedal, your heel on the floor. You should position your seat at a distance where you can go from the gas pedal to the brake pedal in a smooth motion without lifting your foot off of the floor. This position will cut down on your reaction time by keeping you from having to lift your foot to brake. Your left foot should rest on the dead pedal. The dead pedal is the place on the left side of the floor under the driver seat that looks like an accelerator, but is just floor board underneath.
Position your feet on an even plane
By positioning your feet on an even plane, you are provided with additional stability to your body, balancing yourself from the roll and pitch of your vehicle with your left foot. If you are unable to operate the pedals comfortably at this distance, you may need to have pedal extenders put on your car. These are available for purchase online and can be installed by a mechanic. Some vehicles offer this safety feature as an extra accessory on your vehicle. If this is on your vehicle, you can flip a switch and the pedals will move closer to you. Check your owner’s manual for complete operating details.
Drivers that balance themselves with one hand on the steering wheel at 12 o clock and lean forward do not have the stability, avoidance ability, and turning options that drivers that are seated properly enjoy. Their driving is not as smooth or effortless either.
Position you head restraint properly
Your head restraint should be raised or lower so that the top of your ears are at the top of the head restraint. Although sometimes referred to as a head rest, this restraint is to protect your neck in case of a rear end collision. You should not have your head resting on the head restraint while driving.
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