Minimizing risks of developing chronic pain or a musculo-skeletal injury (MSI) means avoiding exposure to the associated hazards. And, that begins well before you get in your vehicle. Use the tips below to prepare for safe, successful and comfortable journeys.
Video with vehicle hygiene tips:
Shared Vehicles - Stay Safe, Stay Well
PDF fact sheet:
Vehicle Hygiene Should be Part Of Your Preparation
Choose the right vehicle
Vehicles come in a range of designs, sizes, shapes and configurations. So do drivers. Optimizing driving workspace starts with identifying and using vehicles that fit the body shapes of the people who will drive them. “Fit for purpose” includes making sure work vehicles fit drivers.
If you’re an employer planning to buy fleet vehicles, think about the sizes and shapes of the employees who will drive those vehicles. Think ahead to the circumstances and conditions in which they will be used. Then, choose the vehicle configurations, layout and features that best match those criteria.
If you’re an employee who uses their vehicle for work, take the same approach. If you will be the principal operator, choose the vehicle that best matches your needs and satisfies your employer’s requirements.
Click here to learn more about the key ergonomic criteria you should consider, and how to evaluate them.
Dress for success
Start with proper driving footwear – high heels and work boots were not designed for driving. Choose footwear that fits you well, is comfortable and provides a good grip on the pedals. Better yet, bring a change of shoes – one pair for driving, the other for your destination office, work site, etc. Avoid restrictive clothing (e.g., tight pants and skirts, winter jackets, scarves and bulky mittens) that can hinder your ability to drive with precision and in comfort, and slow your reaction time.
Remove objects from your pockets
Objects you might commonly carry in your pocket (such as your phone, wallet or keys) can press down on soft tissue while you're sitting in your vehicle, reduce circulation and create pinch points. Before you slide into the driver’s seat, take your wallet, keys and phone out of your pockets.
Entering and exiting your vehicle
If the vehicle you drive requires a significant step up or step down when entering or exiting:
- don’t “jump” into or out of the vehicle
- use three points of contact
- use the handle or grab-strap
- consider installing a step or running boards to reduce step height
Clean the windshield and windows - inside and out
It’s surprising how much dust and “gunk” can accumulate on the inside of your windows. That film impairs visibility and increases how much work you have to do to properly see your driving environment - particularly when you’re driving into the sun. Dirty windows may also force you to crane your neck or adopt an uncomfortable posture in order to see.
At least once a month, clean the inside of your vehicle’s windows - improve your view of the world.
Secure loose objects
Objects that aren’t secured are not only annoying distractions that interfere with your ability to operate the vehicle controls, they can become dangerous projectiles in the event of a crash.
Remove pens, papers, electronic gadgets and bobbles from the dash; tuck them away in the console or glove box. Secure your laptop, lunchbox, water bottle and anything that might otherwise roll under your feet and impede your ability to control the pedals. When you exit your vehicle, take recyclables and trash with you. Make sure heavy objects and cargo are properly secured in the trunk or back of the vehicle.
Put what you’ll need within easy reach - but secured
If you anticipate there are objects you’ll need to handle while you drive - sunglasses, mints or gum, a two-way radio mic, coffee - put them within easy reach. But make sure they can’t “roll around” or “slide off” causing a distraction or hazard.
Keep it cool
Driving comfort includes setting an optimal temperature at about 18 degrees. Above 20 degrees is a little too warm because it increases the likelihood you will become drowsy. Some drivers prefer to keep a window open a crack or set the fan on low to keep the air fresh.