Driving Ergonomics


Q:  What ergonomic features should drivers be looking for in a car?

A:  There are many ergonomics features to look for in a car, with adjustability playing a key role in achieving a comfortable and good posture. For example:

Please refer to the section on 'Car selection' for further information.

Q:  Is a lumbar support an advantage?

A:  A lumbar support can be an advantage provided it is shaped to 'fit' and support your lower back with no pressure points or gaps. However, it ideally needs to be comfortable and adjustable (in/out and up/down) to ensure it can be altered to suit your shape.

Q:  What is a good posture for driving?

A:  You need to ensure that you are comfortable and that you avoid fixed, static postures and driving for long periods. Therefore, it is important to take frequent breaks and the key is to change your posture/position regularly. Any posture no matter how comfortable will be uncomfortable over time. Please refer to the section on 'Posture' for further information.

Q:  How often should I take a break when driving?

A:  The Highway Code recommends taking a break (of at least 15 minutes) every two hours. Two hours needs to be the maximum period of time without a break from driving i.e. take more frequent breaks if necessary and when you stop for a break change your position i.e. get out of your car, go for a walk.

Q:  What should I do if I experience any discomfort whilst driving?

A:  It is important to 'listen to your body' and not to drive with discomfort. If you experience discomfort whilst driving which does not go away, inform the appropriate person within your company of your discomfort or talk to your GP.

Q:  Should I be using my car as an office?

A:  You should be avoiding the use of your car as an office as many of the tasks i.e. laptop use, paperwork involve poor constrained postures, resulting in increased stress on your back. It is important that you find an alternative working environment that is conducive to achieving a good range of postures. Please refer to the advice sheet on 'Working from your car'.

Q:  What can drivers do to prevent back pain?

A:  Assess your lifestyle both at, and outside, work as there can be many contributory factors to back pain with good posture and regular exercise playing a key role in it's prevention.

Ensure your car 'fits' you and is comfortable, take regular breaks and avoid driving for more than 4 hours a day. Ask for a car risk assessment at work and avoid manual handling (i.e. lifting, carrying equipment) where possible. Please refer to the advice sheets 'Working from your car' and 'Manual handling from your car'.

Q:  What cars are recommended for preventing back pain?

A:  It is not possible to recommend specific cars as we all vary in size and shape. A car that suits a 5ft 3" female will be very different to the appropriate car for a 6ft male. However, it is essential to choose a car that 'fits' you and is suited to your work. For example, your car needs to accommodate your body measurements and to have a highly adjustable package i.e. adjustment mechanisms on the seat base, back rest, lumbar support, steering wheel etc. that can be easily adjusted to offer a range of good driving postures. By maintaining good and comfortable postures whilst driving, back pain can be prevented. Please refer to the advice sheet 'Car selection checklist'.

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Getting expert help

Some companies will have on-site professionals such as occupational health nurses, health and safety practitioners, ergonomists and physiotherapists, who can help. Free-lance ergonomists, physiotherapists will also be able to assist.