Do You And Your Vehicle Fit Together?

Being comfortable behind the wheel means more than just knowing the rules of the road. It also means checking and adjusting the safety features in your vehicle so that you and your vehicle fit well together.

Read these six tips to help you get comfortable (and stay safe) behind the wheel:

1. Have a clear line of sight over the steering wheel.

Your line of sight should be at least three inches above the top of the steering wheel so you have a good view of the road ahead.

2. Leave plenty of room between your chest and steering wheel.

Steering wheel airbags give added protection in case you are in a frontal collision. The minimum distance between your chest and steering wheel should be at least 10 inches to allow enough room for the airbag to inflate. If possible, the steering wheel should be adjusted so that the airbag is aimed to absorb crash forces at the chest, not the face. If you sit closer than 10 inches, there is the risk that you could be injured by the air bag as it deploys. This same rule of thumb also applies to passengers.

3. Make you sure you have easy access to gas and brake pedals.

You should be able to easily reach and depress the gas and brake pedals without having to fully extend your legs or use your toes. If you are constantly reaching, you may experience leg and foot fatigue which can slow your movement to the brake pedal. Wearing different types of footwear such as high heels, flip flops, or shoes with thick soles can also affect your ability to reach and effectively use the pedals. This may require you to adjust you seat.

4. Properly adjust your head restraint.

A properly positioned head restraint will provide support, protect you from whiplash, and minimize neck injuries, especially if you are in a rear-end collision. When adjusting the head restraint:

  • The centre of the restraint should be 3 inches or less from the centre of the back of your head, not against your neck.
  • The middle of the back of your head should hit the middle of the back of the restraint pad.

If the restraint is too low, your neck could over-extend and not be able to properly support your head. If the restraint is too high, again, you may not have enough support.

5. Adjust your seat belt so it’s in the proper position and comfortable.

Research shows that wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent injuries and can save your life. When worn correctly, your seat belt will keep you in the proper position during a crash, help the steering wheel airbag to perform properly, and prevent many injuries. Wearing a seat belt also reduces your chance of being ejected in a crash leaving the protection of the passenger compartment. (Research indicates that your chance of dying in a crash increase threefold if you are ejected.)

  • Your lap belt should fit low and tight across the hips, not on the stomach that contains soft tissue.
  • The shoulder belt should cross over the collar bone, away from the neck, and fit snugly across the chest. The shoulder belt should never be tucked behind the back or under the arm.

If the seat belt is close to the neck and uncomfortable, try doing this:

  • Raise the seat, which will bring your line of sight above the steering wheel.
  • Bring the seat back closer to an upright position – but still be comfortable.
  • Adjust the seat belt slider on the side pillar.

Adjust your mirrors.

Properly adjusted mirrors can help you stay safe by minimizing blind spots and maximizing your your side and rear visibility.

To reduce the size of your vehicle’s blind spots, follow these simple steps:

  • To adjust the left side mirror, rest your head against the closed window and set the mirror to barely show the edge of your vehicle.
  • To set the right mirror, lean to the right so that you head is directly below the rearview mirror or above the center console. Adjust this mirror the same way, so you can just barely see the edge of the right side of your vehicle.

With the side mirrors now angled outward slightly more, you’ll gain increased visual coverage of your blind spots. You should always do a quick shoulder check before changing lanes, but you’ll now have almost seamless visual contact with all areas behind and beside your vehicle.