Safe Driving and Seating Position: 5 Guidelines for Small Women

Cherryl Anne Cruz

It’s often challenging for a petite women to achieve optimal safety when driving. In some cases, they need to compromise their sizes on seats that are often configured for taller people. For instance, a small woman has a tendency to move her entire body forward on a car seat so she can reach the brakes. That’s a big mistake: One rule of car safety position is to press the back entirely against the backrest, with the bottom as far back in the seat as possible.

This might sound trivial, but it can be dangerous in the event of a collision. An airbag deployed at over 320 kph with a woman sitting far closer than what she should be can knock her out on impact–and that’s the case even when she’s wearing a seatbelt. It can also cause concussions and fractures, with more serious injuries.

It might be a bit more challenging for a petite girl to practice safe and correct driving positions,  but it can be done. And if you’re one of them, then here are some things you should keep in mind to make driving safer and  easier for you:

1. Adjust your steering wheel.

The steering wheel should point straight at your chest—not higher than that. This is because your chest bones, which are tougher compared to your neck bone, can survive better should it hit the steering wheel in case of a collision.

2. Use tools or gadgets.

Visibility is probably the number one problem small women face. A good way to solve this is to use non-slip cushions on the seats to elevate the entire body up. This helps increase your visibility on the road.

You can also take advantage of vehicles that offer manual or powered seat height adjusters. One example here is the 2018 Honda CR-V, with its 2.0 S CVT offering manual adjusters, or its AWD variant offering 8-way power adjusters.

3. Practice safe proper distance.

Move your seat at least 10 inches from your breastbone to the center of the steering wheel. That’s it–anything less than that is compromising your safety.

We understand this might be a problem for smaller women, whose first instinct is to move the seat forward to accommodate their much shorter legs. If that’s the case, buy pedal extenders to safely increase the distance between the pedals and the feet.

4. Wear your seatbelt correctly.

The good thing about seatbelts is that they can be adjusted depending on your height. Make sure that the shoulder strap is squarely flat against your chest, while the lap belt (or low strap) is fitted tightly across your hips.

5. Hands at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position on the steering wheel.

This is the best position that allows good, solid steering while keeping your hands away from the airbag in case it gets deployed suddenly.

Let’s face it: when it comes to driving, the taller girls really have the most fun. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of driving discomfort if you’re on the petite side. All it takes is a bit of modification, ingenuity, and some creativity on your part, and you’ll soon realize how much fun driving can be.

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