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Vehicle Ergonomics Best Practices

Date: January 2023

Following ergonomic techniques while in the car can help reduce strain on muscles and bones and helps prevent injury. Below are vehicle ergonomics best practices. *

Before Driving

  • Clean the windshield.
  • Remove items from pockets or shift them to front pockets.
  • Position items used during the drive near the driver if necessary.
  • Buckle up and ensure seat belt is comfortable, secure and in good condition.
  • If uncomfortable, consider using a seat belt cushion positioned to reduce discomfort.
  • Raise the seat as high as possible but provide for head room and for feet to reach the pedals easily.
  • Adjust mirrors.
  • Adjust back tilt to support back fully, typically between 100 degrees and 110 degrees.
  • Adjust seat pan or cushion depth: Move tailbone as far back into the seat as possible. The driver should be able to place two to three fingers between back of knee and the front of the seat. If not possible, consider adding a pillow or back cushion to move forward and support the lumbar.
  • Seat pan tilt should fully support the thighs and legs along length of cushion.
  • Adjust the head rest so the rest is level with the top of the head.
  • Adjust steering wheel for height or tilt so the center is between 10 and 12 inches from driver breast bone, and the arms, wrists and shoulders are comfortable.

While Driving

  • Shift hand postures frequently on the steering wheel while maintaining both hands on the wheel.
  • Take frequent breaks, particularly on longer drives.

Entering/Exiting Vehicles

  • For higher vehicles, avoid jumping to the ground.
    • Use running boards for an extra step or consider adding running boards if not provided.
  • Use hand grips to assist with entering or exiting a vehicle.

Working in the Car

Working in the car should be avoided whenever possible and should not take place when the car is in motion.

  • Avoid working from the driver’s seat, as it offers the least amount of room.
  • Avoid setting laptop or materials in an adjacent seat and working sideways.
  • Do not work for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time with laptop.
  • If it is necessary to work on longer tasks, use the rear seat.
  • Do not use mobile phones while driving; park the car first.
  • Use hand to hold phone, not the shoulder.
  • Keep items of common use close to the body.
  • Take only what is necessary.
  • Change positions and take frequent breaks.

* United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service. “Driving Ergonomics.” Presented by Ginger Edgecombe Dorsey.

The information contained in this document is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or coverage advice on any specific matter.