As an advanced driving Instructor, often times I am asked how does one become a better driver?
Well, the answer is never so straightforward, because everyone's level of driving varies from one to another. But that doesn't mean you can't take steps to be a better, safer driver. At the most fundamental level, finding the right driving position makes a world of difference.
In this column, I will outline six simple steps, in the correct order, to finding the right driving position, no matter what size you are. I have outlined in the picture below, the six steps.
1.) Seat height adjustment.
The first step is to adjust your seat height. Sit as high as you can, leaving a gap of a fist from your head to the headliner. The higher you sit, the better your view out of the car, giving you maximum visibility.
2.) Distance to pedal adjustment.
With this adjustment, adjust your forward/backward movement till there is a bend to your knee, whilst fully depressing the brake pedal. The bend on your knee helps when applying maximum braking force in a situation that demands it. Moreover, in a worst-case scenario, having a bent knee will help you mitigate serious injuries.
3.) Backrest adjustment.
A bad habit of many drivers is too sit in a semi-slouched position, when in fact, you should be sitting quite upright, and snugly. Make sure your shoulders are resting comfortably. Sitting upright gives you better brake pressure modulation, and reduces your risk of 'submarining' under hard braking.
4.) Steering adjustment.
The steering wheel should be brought close to the driver till your elbows are bent, while your hands are in the 9 & 3 position. This gives you optimum comfort over long periods of driving, and maximum control of the steering wheel. Moreover, the steering wheel should not impede your view of the instrument panel.
5.) Head restraint.
Contrary to popular belief, a head rest is not for resting your head. It is short for 'head restraint system'. Push the headrest up as high as possible. This is so that, again, in a crash, the head restraint prevents your neck from moving around too much. Anyone who has experienced a whiplash will know how painful it is.
6.) Seat belt.
Lastly, always remember to buckle up! Beyond just buckling up, remember to tighten the belt adjustment so that it wraps snugly around you. This is to make sure the seat belt holds you, should it 'lock up' in a high-impact situation.
So there you go, six simple steps to instantly improve your driving experience. In addition to that, most modern cars allow for these seat adjustments. While it will take some getting used to, it most certainly will give you better control and comfort when driving.