Driving Position Safety: Tips for Women

Is your car seat position putting you in danger? A study has shown that female drivers wearing seat belts are 47% more likely than men to be seriously injured in collisions because of their smaller stature and preferred driving positions.

Airbags can deploy at speeds of up to 200 mph! If you’re too close to the steering wheel during a collision, you could get seriously injured. Sitting in a proper driving position can help you make sure your vehicle’s safety systems are protecting you—not putting you in danger.

If you’re on the petite side, it can seem tough to find a comfortable yet safe driving position, but a few simple adjustments can help you keep a proper distance from the airbag.

How to Adjust Your Driving Position

Here are some tips on proper driving position based on NHTSA recommendations so that you can be safer when you’re behind the wheel. Just remember: the best way to stay safe is to avoid accidents in the first place by being a good defensive driver.

1. Tilt your steering wheel down.

Adjust your steering wheel so it points at your chest, not your head or your neck.

2. Move your seat backward.

Move your seat back as far as you can while still comfortably reaching the pedals. You should be at least 10 inches from the steering wheel, from your breastbone to the center of the wheel.

3. Recline the back of the seat slightly.

If you’re still too close to the steering wheel after moving your seat back, try reclining slightly. If that makes it harder to see the road, try raising your seat or placing a firm non-slippery cushion on the seat. Still closer than 10 inches? You may want to consider pedal extenders.

4. Keep your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel.

The NHTSA now recommends that all drivers keep their hands positioned on opposite sides on the steering wheel. This is a more comfortable and stable steering position, and it also keeps your hands clear of the airbag.

5. Always wear your seat belt properly.

Seat belts save lives and prevent injuries. For your seat belt to be effective, it’s important for you to wear it properly. Adjust the seat belt height so that the shoulder strap lies flat against your chest, not on your neck or under your arm. The lap belt or lower strap should be snug across your hips.

If you’re pregnant, check out some specific tips on buckling up for pregnant women.