How Many Inches Should You Be From The Steering Wheel?
Very few drivers think about how far away they are from the steering wheel and whether or not this distance is ideal.
The fact that you're reading this article means you're the exception to that rule, so...how much space should be between you and the steering wheel, and does it even matter?
How Far Away From The Steering Wheel Should You Be?
Most experts recommend a space of at least 10 inches between the driver and the steering wheel. This optimal distance will prevent serious injuries and applies to all drivers and vehicles.
Why Does Distance Matter?
There are two things to consider when it comes to the space between you and the steering wheel.
The first is comfort and freedom of movement.
You should have enough space to move freely and operate the vehicle as required. Personal preference plays a role, but unless you have any issues that restrict your movements, the most comfortable position for you will be the ideal position outlined above.
Secondly, and most importantly, there is a safety issue.
If you are involved in a car accident, you're more likely to be seriously injured if you're pressed up against the wheel.
Airbags deploy with incredible force, and the further away you are from the steering wheel, the less of that force you will absorb.
How to Assume the Correct Position When Driving
There are a few steps you can take to find the safest and most comfortable position when driving:
Position the Steering Wheel Downward
Point the steering wheel downward. This will help to minimize damage to the chest and face following a serious impact.
Adjust Your Seat
To move away from the steering wheel, slide the driver's seat back and slightly recline the top half.
Don't Let Young Children in the Front
Children under the age of 13 should sit in the back, as they are more prone to damage from airbags. The airbags might be there to help them, but in the event of a minor car accident, they could do more harm than good.
Sit As Far Back As You Can
You don't need to worry about measuring the distance between you and the wheel. That 10-inch recommendation is a minimum and not a requirement.
The goal, therefore, is to sit as far away as you can while still being able to comfortably access the pedals. That way, you can minimize and even negate the potential damage caused by steering wheel airbags.
What If I Need to Sit Closer?
If you find that your height necessitates being much closer to the steering wheel, consider getting pedal adjusters.
It's important to stay safe, and while your natural instinct is to shift a few inches forward, sitting too close can place your health in jeopardy.
What's the Safest Position for Pregnant Women?
The safest place for pregnant women is the back seat, with the lap belt tucked under their belly. If they are in the passenger seat, they should push the seat as far back as it will go.
If you're a pregnant driver, just concentrate on putting as much space between your belly and the wheel as you can.
Always wear your seat belt and make sure it's a three-point belt with a shoulder and lap belt.
Are Airbags Dangerous?
Airbags are there to save lives, not risk them. They are amazing things and have saved countless lives since they were first fitted as standard in motor vehicles.
The problem is that the airbag deploys with force and this can cause harm. If it deploys too early or too late, there is an even great risk of harm.
Face, chest, neck, and back injuries are some of the most common issues associated with airbag deployment. Airbags have also been known to cause mild burns and abrasions due to the fabric rubbing against the skin. The chemicals used in the deployment mechanism may even lead to skin and lung irritation.
Vehicle manufacturers are getting better and better at protecting drivers with—and against—airbags, including adding adjustable pedals that allow drivers to sit further away, but there is still a risk of injury.
Of course, if you're involved in a serious car accident and don't have the protection of an airbag, you'll have more than minor abrasions, whiplash, and a few bruises to deal with.
Summary: How Far Should You Be From the Steering Wheel?
Every time you get behind the steering wheel, take some time to adjust.
Make sure the wheel is not pointed at your neck or face, leave a gap of at least 10 inches between your chest and the wheel, and adjust your seat to find a comfortable position.
Once you have made these adjustments, the only thing left to do is wear your seat belt, check your mirrors, and start the car!