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Discussion Starter #1
So much I could say on this topic.

I'm still in the old school of driving erect with hands at 10-oclock and 2-oclock position for better control of the steering wheel. Last week, I attended defensive driving class to dismiss my first traffic ticket in over five years. Not much new until I asked inquired about what the safe distance from an airbag is. Heard horror stories about how the first ones deployed at 195-mph, can take off your face, etc.

I can't quite buy that the engineers expect drivers to recline as far as possible and hold the steering wheel - how can you retain control streched out? It would not suprise me that this extended posture is partially responsible for more frequent abrupt lane-changes. It seems like being hyper-extended from the steering wheel is unsafe from a vehicle control standpoint.

What I describe next is seen on a daily basis, so I don't know why reporting this could be wrong. A significant number of drivers are postured like they are in a reclining chair with only their right wrist touching the steering wheel. If they have reading glasses on, they would have to look at the bottom of them to see the road ahead:

a) I can't be the only witness to this
b) This can't be safe
c) This is pompous and ridiculous

I do put more distance from the steering wheel, but my elbows are still bent - not fully extended.
 

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I drive similarly, where I am quite upright and have a little bend in the elbows. I was once taught as a wee lad that proper torso distance had your wrists comfortably resting on the top of the steering wheel when your arms are extended and elbows nearly straight. This results in a slight bend in the elbow when you are at 10 and 2 o'clock.

I see people drive with an index finger on the bottom of the wheel as the only contact with the wheel, and sometimes with the knee as the wheel steering appendage. As my knees don't have fingers, I have never relied upon that.

For what it is worth, aside from the cell phone yackers who drive with one hand and don't pay any attention to anything, I am not sure that I can recall seeing many full recliners recently. On the other hand, I don't really bring to mind postures much at all anyway. I think I focus just on the eyes and heads to see if they others people are looking my way and just filter out the posture altogether.
 

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The concept is not to have any flesh or bone closer than the fully extended range of a deployed air bag. You don't need another additional force slapping you around at the time of an accident. For men a _minumum_ of around 8" from chest to air bag is sufficient. For women the verbiage gets a bit more difficult. <g>

Sternum is the recomemded unisex term.

Yes you can distance yourself too far from the air bag. Trying something like driving by your toes or fingertips on the wheel will likely cause an accident. In such a case the air bags effectiveness will also be more limited.

HTH! :)
 

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What we're teaching at Car Control School is:
- hands at 3 and 9
- slide the seat back far enough that you can get your foot on the firewall behind the pedals
- adjust seat back as UPRIGHT AS POSSIBLE, with the goal of achieving a 120 degree bend at the elbow when holding the wheel at 3 & 9

I've been told that the distance between you and the wheel should be at least 8".

The seat back as upright as possible allows you to:
- see further up the road
- put some weight on your left foot (resting on Jim's lovely Insight footrest :)), thus allowing you the best control of the steering wheel, since you're not clinging for dear life

That they'd tell you to recline the seat back is just... just awful!

On a side tangent, the 8" rule is hunky-dory for those who are tall, but at 5' 1" there is no way I can get 8" between me and the steering wheel, while still managing to get the clutch to the floor.

To get close to that minimum of 8", I have to adjust the seat back 1 notch from upright. I'm still pondering going to the DMV and getting permission to disable the airbags in the Insight entirely, given my personal build.
 

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Those are good tips, thanks.
The "upright as possible" is better for your back as well, especially for long distances. It's also a good idea to remove your wallet (if you keep it in your back pocket) when driving to even the pressure on your spine.
Robert
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you everyone for your input.

Part of the problem may be that legal stuff inside the vehicle: "CAUTION: SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH MAY OCCUR. SIT AS FAR AWAY FROM THE STEERING WHEEL AS POSSIBLE".

I might have made the recliners seem a little more common than they really are, but they do stick out, and it's more than occasional.

It's too bad the Comedy Defensive Driver's Instructor seemed to take offense at the mention of recliners, as it could give him a lot of material. :wink:
 
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