Did you know that the position you take inside your car when driving could mean the difference between life and death if you are in an accident?
Not very many women know that, until recently, car safety features where designed primarily for men. The first female crash test dummy was only developed in 2012 by Swedish university, Chalmers University of Technology. While car safety features continue to improve exponentially with advancements in reinforced chassis, computerised warning systems and side-impact beams, the position the driver takes inside the cabin is still of utmost importance – especially for women.
Adjusting your car settings to support your height and weight could save your life.
“Today, modern cars detect the driver’s height and weight, and position the protection system to suite these individual dimensions” says AutoTrader’s CEO George Mienie. “So it’s no longer a case of male or female, but rather how heavy or how tall you are,” he says.
However, the South African auto market mostly consists of second-hand vehicles, what the industry terms “an ageing car park”, meaning many cars on our roads today pre-date 2012 and don’t use the latest technology found in modern cars. “This makes it important for women to adjust their driving position, to make sure they drive positioned in the safest part of the cabin,” adds George.
According to Devon Scott, Jaguar Land Rover’s lead instructor, women often sit too close to the steering wheel, whereas men tend to sit too low. This is usually because women are, on average, shorter than men.
Devon gives some advice and precautions to make sure you are positioned correctly when in your car:
- When sitting upright in the driver seat, make sure there is at least one hand length of space between your head and the top of the roof. Use your seat adjuster to correct the height of your chair.
- When sitting behind the steering wheel, your legs shouldn’t be fully extended. Move your seat forward or backwards with the seat adjuster until your legs are slightly bent.
- Steering wheels are (mostly) adjustable for reach. When sitting upright, extend one arm forward and adjust the steering wheel until your wrist is touching it. You should not be closer than 27cm to an airbag.
- The seat headrest is not designed to rest your head on, but to help with whiplash when involved in an accident, so always make sure the top of the headrest is above your ears.
- Seat belts are adjustable and should never be across your neck – only ever across your chest.
“It might take some time getting used to a new seating position, but remember that your car is not your couch,” comments George. “In order for the intelligently designed safety features to work effectively, women are advised to adjust their settings using these basic tips,” he concludes.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.