Set Your Driving Position

OK. You’ve confirmed that you’re fit to drive, done a pre-trip check, planned your route and minimized potential distractions. Take a minute to correctly set your seating position. Doing so improves your sight lines and helps you to operate the vehicle more efficiently. It also reduces driving stress and fatigue and minimizes the risks of discomfort and musculo-skeletal injuries (MSIs).

Seating position

When you’re driving, you should be comfortable and able to easily reach the controls (pedals, steering wheel, levers and knobs).

In general, aim for a seating position that puts the maximum amount of your body into contact with the seat. Sit in the seat, not on it. Push the small of your back into the seat and sit as upright as possible to help stay alert and allow for good visibility.

Download Set Your Driving Position resource containing all Illustrations below (PDF 612KB)


Click the thumbnails below to show a full-sized image:

Illustration 1 - Initial position:

Start with the seat in the initial set up position.

  • Set seat at lowest height; move it all the way back
  • Recline back rest about 30 to 40 degrees from vertical
  • Tilt seat cushion so front edge is in lowest position; back off lumbar support adjustment
  • Tilt steering wheel fully upwards and forward (away from you)

Illustration 2 - Raise the seat:

Raise the seat to improve your view of the road.

  • Hips should be about level with knees.
  • Ensure there’s enough clearance between your head and the roof. If you are craning your neck to see stoplights, your seat is set too high.

Illustration 3 - Adjust for leg reach:

Move the seat ahead until you can easily depress the accelerator and brake pedals without pulling your back away from the backrest.

  • Adjust the seat so you can fully depress the pedals and still have a slight bend in your right leg.

Illustration 4 - Tilt seat cushion:

Tilt the seat cushion up so it contacts your thighs and supports them along the length of the cushion.

  • There should be at least a two-finger gap between the back of your knee and the seat.

Illustration 5 - Adjust backrest:

Adjust the backrest so it provides support along the length of your back.

  • Try for an angle of about 100 to 110 degrees.

Illustration 6 - Adjust lumbar support:

Adjust the lumbar support so that you feel even pressure along the length of the back cushion.

  • Fine tune the lumbar support so there are no gaps or pressure points.

Illustration 7 - Adjust steering wheel:

Adjust the steering wheel. Pull it towards you and tilt it slightly downwards to minimize reaching.

  • Position steering wheel so there is 25 – 30 cm between centre of steering wheel and your chest. This distance provides proper leverage and flexibility to turn the steering wheel, and allows the air bag to properly deploy with minimal risk of injuring the driver.
  • When you grasp the steering wheel with both hands and wrists straight, your elbows should be slightly bent and your shoulders should have a neutral posture (i.e. arms by side).
  • Check for clearance: knees don’t contact steering column or underside of dash when operating pedals. Make sure you have clear view of the panel display.

Note – If your vehicle does not have a tilting / telescoping steering column, move the seat forward to achieve the distance of 25 – 30 cm between the steering wheel and your chest.

The finer points of footwork

By planting your left foot against the “dead pedal” (the foot rest area to the left of the brake or clutch pedal) you can brace your entire body. You can then work the brake and gas pedals with greater accuracy and control. It also means you aren’t relying on the steering wheel for support during hard braking. This improves your ability to quickly and accurately operate the steering wheel – and possibly avoid a crash.

Keeping your right heel on the floor allows you to easily pivot your foot at the ankle for smoother pedal operation. If you lift your foot off the floor to apply the brakes, you’re controlling pedal pressure with your entire leg, which is less effective.

Head restraints aren’t head rests

A properly positioned head restraint supports the back of your head and neck, protecting you from severe neck injuries if you’re in a rear-end crash.

The top of the head restraint should be about level with the top of your head.

The head restraint should be closer than 10 cm (4”) from the back of your head, but not so close that it interferes with your ability to comfortably turn and move your head without contacting the head restraint. Adjusting the seat back in a slightly more upright position will place your head closer to the head restraint.

Click the thumbnail below to show a full-sized image:

The next time you’re driving with passengers, take a few seconds to check the positioning of your passengers’ head restraints – in the front and rear seats.

Continue Reading

Before You Go

Set Your Driving Position

Make Necessary Adjustments

While You're Driving


Tool Kits