Fast and Furious Ergonomics for Automobiles

Ergonomics June 26, 2014

Ergonomics for Automobiles

We love receiving questions from our former students. For this blog we’ve pulled one from the archives revolving around ergonomics for automobile drivers. First, our Back Scholar’s question:

What recommendations do you have for doing an ergonomic review of a vehicle?  We have some field sales reps that spend a lot of time sitting in their cars, driving to client sites.  Do you have any suggestions for making adjustments within this ‘mobile office’ setting?

Are there recommendations for adjusting/positioning the driver seat that might be better than others? (e.g., sitting lower/more reclined vs. higher/straighter?  Stretches that might be good for someone sitting in a fairly confined space or gripping the steering wheel for extended periods of time?  Any products that might be helpful?


And here is TBS Director, Ron Porter’s response:

This is a difficult question to answer. Positioning of the seat of a vehicle, would depend upon the area of the body where you are trying to relieve the stress. For the lower back it is best for the knees to be lower than the hips to place the lumbar spine in a good posture and for the seat to be tilted back to decrease disc pressure. However, when in this position your arms are often more extended toward the steering wheel  creating fatigue/stress in the mid back and shoulder and your neck may be held in a less than optimal posture.


Perhaps the BEST advice I can give is for the driver to CHANGE POSITIONS FREQUENTLY; about every 30 minutes. This will allow for a better distribution of pressure on the spine, change of static postures and  assist with better blood flow to all parts of the body. If your vehicle has power seats, this makes it easy to frequently make a small change of position. If your car does not have power seats, you may want to stop the vehicle and reposition and also take more frequent rest breaks where you get out of the vehicle and walk around.



One product that I use personally in my car seat and  in my seat when flying on an airplane is the Medic-air Back Pillow. It easily changes the depth of your seat, encourages movement and  allows you to change the amount of support that your back  receives. You can find it here.

Have you or your employees ever had issues with auto-ergo? Feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!

One thought

  • Paul Klahn

    With ergonomics becoming such a hot topic in transportation. Speaking as a student from The Back School I’m surprised with ALL the categories listed, driving doesn’t have its own tab.

    I work as a HSE consultant for 3,600 sales reps who are would love access to a blog that talks specifically to them and not just about posture and seat placement, but everyday aids they could use to make their job easier.

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