26th September 2013

Blog: Sit pretty – Sit safe

Getting into a car, it is so easy to forget the silent protection being afforded you and your passengers. Every new car today comes with airbag and seat retentions systems that many will take for granted, and the talents of which you will hopefully never have to avail.

But it is so important that you sit and position the steering wheel correctly so as these systems work to their optimum for you and not add to your risk of injury.

Seat Position

Pedal/Steering Distance

Adjust the distance back from the foot controls so as you have a natural bend at you knee when foot controls are activated. You do not want to have a straight leg in the event of you reflexing in the event of an impending frontal collision.

Should the floor rise in an impact, your bent leg will fold up, absorbing the impact. A straight leg will transfer the impact energy through every joint up to the pelvic area; the resulting injuries can be really nasty and life threatening.

To get the optimum steering grip, place your arms either side of the steering,  your hands open and extended at the ten-to-two position, to where your wrists are at the edge of the steering wheel. You can achieve this by slight adjustment of the steering via the unlocking the lever adjuster on the steering column and move it Up or Down, In or Out, until it suits your body-frame. Don’t forget to lock the steering back into position once finished.

Seat Height

Adjust the height of the seat to suit your body-frame. Don’t place it on the floor where you cannot see over the dash to the bonnet-line. Neither have it too high where you are level with the roofline. 


Being tall my preference is to have my seatback quite straight. Try an avoid having it too far forward, pitching you into the steering wheel, or too far back to where you have no support.

Head Restraint

Often referred to as “Head Rests”, these are really important and should be set to where they are level with the top of your head. In the event of a collision, these will stop your head being extended rearward, causing a neck injury – which can be severe and life changing.


Your seat belt should be adjusted for you height at the B-Pillar, (where it come over your shoulder). You then clip in to the receptor, ensuring that the lap section fits snugly across your pelvic area, below the beltline of your trousers. This is really important, as proper placement will prevent you ‘Submarineing’ in the event of a collision. Slipping underneath the lap section before it pulls tight will place your back and lower limbs at risk of injury. Placed correctly you will be pulled into the back of the seat via the seatbelt retracting, your back and legs aligned so as your rear-end is pushed to the rear of the seat.


Airbags work in conjunction with the seat retention system. In the event of a major impact or rapid deceleration, the airbag system and seat belts work together to prevent you being injured by violent movement or by bodily contact with the sides or frontal area of the car.

Important- You now place your hands on the steering at the Quarter-to Three position. This position allows for the airbag to deploy without the risk of it coming into contact with your hands/arms.

The airbags will deploy in roughly three times the speed of a blink – you will not see them!!

If your hands are improperly placed they can be taken from the steering wheel and can hit you in the face/head area, contributing to your injuries. If you are wearing heavy rings, bangles, or watches, they too can cause facial or head injuries.

By Tony Toner, BeepBeep.ie Motoring Correspondent.

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