When it comes to driving your vehicle safely, there are a lot of things that you’re required to do. For instance, you need to learn how to change gears properly. You also need to use the seat belts at all times and follow traffic signals.
Furthermore, driving safely means you need to obey speed limits, avoid distractions, and use headlights when necessary. Also, avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol is another tip for safe driving. But do you know that the positioning of your seat behind the steering wheel also matters for safe driving?
Most people sit pretty close to the steering wheel because of their short height. Drivers with short legs might have difficulties reaching the gas and brake pedals, and therefore feel the need to sit too close to the steering wheel. This habit can be dangerous, as it limits the space for airbag deployment.
How close to the steering wheel should you sit? Why do people sit so close to the steering wheel when driving? What exactly will happen if you sit so close to the steering wheel? Is it better to be closer or farther from the steering wheel?
How Close To The Steering Wheel Should You Sit?
Sitting pretty close to the steering wheel when driving is a bad habit. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the best way to sit is to keep 10 or more inches of distance between you and the steering wheel. This way, your vehicle’s airbag can get enough room to deploy during an auto crash or collision.
Keeping 10 or more inches of space between you and the steering wheel is a safe driving habit, no doubt about it. If you end up sitting very close to the wheel, you’ll most likely feel the impact of your vehicle’s airbag when it deploys during an accident. However, by keeping a 10-inch distance, not everybody will be able to sit comfortably and see through the windshield.
For instance, short drivers (especially those with heights below 5’ 5”) and elderly drivers will most likely not be able to drive comfortably keeping 10 inches of distance away from the steering wheel. If you fall in these categories, you can follow the simple steps below to make your car seat and steering wheel more comfortable and safer for you while driving.
- First, let’s start with the steering wheel. Tilt the wheel at an angle that allows you to see clearly while sticking to the recommended distance.
- Also, you can try adjusting the base of your seat. Reach out to the base of the seat and set it in a way that keeps you upright.
- You can also consider installing pedal adjusters in your vehicle. The adjuster will help you move the pedals up, keeping them closer to you.
Why Do People Sit So Close To The Steering Wheel?
Most drivers sit pretty close to the steering wheel because of several different reasons. Generally, people prefer being close to the steering wheel because it provides them with more control over the car.
For instance, NASCAR drivers often sit close to their steering wheels because it allows them to keep their shoulders less extended for a long race. Sitting closer to the wheel means they’ll be able to make use of their shoulders, biceps, forearms, and wrists while driving. This way, they get better control over their cars while driving for hours.
Short drivers, especially those under the heights of 5’5″, also prefer sitting close to their steering wheels because it allows them to seat comfortably and gain better control of their cars.
In case you don’t know, short people experience a lot of challenges driving their cars. First, it’s usually tough for them to find a comfortable and safe seating position. Apart from that, short drivers often find it hard to see clearly when driving in their vehicles. These reasons and more explain why they prefer to sit pretty close to the steering wheel.
Elderly drivers, especially women, also like to sit so close to the steering wheel. Most of them do that because they have a decreasing vision.
Another reason why elderly drivers sit so close to their steering wheel, as mentioned by Chris Coleman, a test driver, and mechanic, has a lot to do with bone structure. I’m sure you know that People lose bone mass as they age. For instance, someone of 5′ 7″ height could become 5′ 2″ with time. So, as people become old, they tend to become shorter and feel less comfortable sitting 10 or more inches away from the steering wheel.
The bottom line is that there are several reasons why people choose to sit close to the steering wheel. For NASCAR drivers, the reason for that is to be able to gain better control of their cars. Elderly and short drivers, on the other hand, prefer sitting close to their steering wheel because they feel more comfortable and see clearly when they do just that.
What Happens If You Sit Too Close To The Steering Wheel?
As you already know, drivers choose to sit close to the steering wheel because of a lot of reasons. No doubt, sitting close to the steering wheel offers the drivers several benefits, such as seeing clearly when driving and gaining better control of their vehicles. However, you need to understand that it’s not without its issues.
In case you don’t know, sitting so close to the steering wheel is dangerous. Here’s why; your vehicle has a front airbag, which is designed to inflate only during an auto crash. By sitting close to the steering wheel, you will be preventing your vehicle’s safety features, such as the airbag and seat belt from functioning properly.
During a car collision, your vehicle’s airbag will deploy, protecting you from injuries. However, when you sit close to the wheel, you will most likely feel the impact of the airbag when it deploys during a collision.
Is It Better To Be Closer Or Farther From The Steering Wheel
Sitting close to the steering wheel, as you already know, has its advantages and disadvantages. One of its setbacks is that it could cause severe injuries to your body, most especially the head and chest, during a collision or accident. This is why the standard for drivers is to sit about 10 inches or more from the steering wheel.