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How comfortable are you?
Recent survey suggests that half of all UK drivers
Risk serious long term muscle, joint and spinal injuries

Driving postures - ebaymotors and UK study results.

Which driving posture is yours?

26th May 2006.

How comfortable are you in your driving?

We tend to focus our attention on the car, on its environment, cursing the legions of bad drivers - never forget: only others make mistakes - but we rarely think about the most basic element of our comfort: driving posture

According to a new study by*, based on an independent ICM poll of 1,000 respondents on 8 May 2006, over 14 million British drivers could be suffering from Repetitive Driving Injuries (RDI). That would be almost half of all British drivers (48%)** suffering from a painful new medical condition experts are calling Repetitive Driving Injury, caused by poor driving posture.

Ergonomics experts warn many drivers are risking serious long term muscle, joint and spinal injuries as a quarter of motorists admit they don't know how to correctly adjust their car seats for comfort and safety.

According to the study, the five most common Repetitive Driving Injuries are:
- foot cramp (suffered by 81% of the survey sample),
- lumbar pain (74%),
- stiff neck (74%),
- side ache (74%), and
- headache/eye strain (73%).

Almost two million British drivers (6.5%) start to suffer from these after just fifteen minutes driving, with 9% of drivers experiencing symptoms after driving just 22 miles***.

Charlie Coney of comments “Despite eight out of ten drivers having suffered from RDI's, only one in five (21%) considers car comfort an important factor when purchasing a car. Choosing the car best suited to their driving style should be an increased priority for all car buyers to avoid these symptoms.”

To help car buyers avoid RDI's, worked with ergonomics expert Professor Mark Porter of Loughborough University to identify the four most common driving positions and their related problems.

The results reveal four main types of drivers: 'Racers', 'Pimps', 'Multi-taskers' and 'Rollercoasters'.

Find the correct image! Where does each of us fit?

THE ROLLERCOASTER (37% of the respondents)

Rollercoaster: shoulder pain, neck strain, leg cramp and side ache.

How to spot: Driver is leaned forward and sat upright, seat forward, bent legs, bent arms.
Most common RDI symptoms:  Shoulder pain, neck strain, leg cramp and side ache.
- Relax! Tense and nervous drivers are more likely to adopt this position leading to tense shoulders so try to avoid driving situations that stress you out.
- When buying a car, go for one with a fully adjustable interior package. Ensure the height of the back rest reaches the shoulders and does not obstruct 'rearward vision'. Try and sit back more into the seat to get better back support.
- Take regular breaks where you can get out of the car to stretch your legs.


Multitasker: headaches and eye strain, feet cramp, pain in coccyx.

How to spot: Driver has straight back, arms bent, one hand on gear stick. 45% of mobile office workers are Multi-Taskers.
Most common RDI symptoms: Headaches and eye strain, feet cramp, pain in coccyx. Solutions:
- 45% of Multi-Taskers drive for work but they should try not to use the car as an office.
- Twisting to access paperwork and the laptop can be more damaging to your back and neck than driving.
- Regularly adjust your seat on long journeys to help your coccyx.
- Use a 'hands-free' mobile phone kit.
- Consider changing to an automatic car to avoid constant gear changes and keep two hands on the wheel.


Racer: side aches and lumbar pain.

How to spot: Straight arms, seat reclined, straight legs, low driving position.
Most common RDI symptoms: Side aches and lumbar pain.
- Be aware low seat positions (and bucket seats) provide limited support for the lower back. and sides. To counteract assume a fairly upright position.
- Knees should not be higher than your hips - it reminds you to sit up!


Pimp driver: arm and shoulder ache from resting on the window ledge.

How to spot: Seat inclined, arm on window ledge/outside window, one hand on wheel. Drivers aged 25-35 year-old men are most likely to be 'Pimps' behind the wheel.
Most common RDI symptoms: arm and shoulder ache from resting on the window ledge. Solutions:
- Sit in a fairly upright position, with knees lower than hips. You should be able to reach the accelerator and brake without stretching your legs.
- Roll up the window and keep both arms on the steering wheel.

Professor Mark Porter's comments, “Whichever position you drive in, the two most important things to remember when choosing your next car are:
1. The greater the number of adjustable features within a car, the greater the likelihood of achieving a comfortable driving posture.
2. Important adjustments include an in/out and up/down steering wheel and a seat with independent height and cushion tilt so you can set the height of the seat for headroom/vision and then control the cushion angle for ease of pedal operation & comfort.”

Charlie Coney of adds: “It's incredible people will spend thousands to ensure comfort and safety in their homes and offices, but when it comes to cars only 21% of drivers consider it a priority. With over 100,000 cars listed on at any one time, buyers can road test a vast range of cars in their local area to find a vehicle that suits their driving style.”

Further research highlights:
- Women start to feel RDI quicker than men, with 58% of women complaining of car-ache in the first two hours of a journey, compared to only 46% of men.
- Drivers of 4x4s are most prone to RDI's.
- Drivers in the Midlands (54%) are most likely to suffer.
- Motorists in the South East are the least knowledgeable about how to set up their car to avoid pain and discomfort.

For those who would like to read more about driving ergonomics, a special website covers this topic.

* Survey results are based on an independent ICM Poll of 1,000 respondents on 8 May 2006.
** Based on a total of 29,500,000 cars currently on UK roads (independent figure recorded by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited).
*** Based on average speed of 45mph.

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