Driving and back pain

Road safety tips

Back pain can prove to be a real challenge for fleet drivers who spend hours behind the wheel in a fixed position. This is largely due to the body being exposed to a lot of vibration caused by acceleration and braking. Poor posture, inadequate lumbar support and taking no breaks also leave some drivers experiencing back problems.

Here are some practical tips to help support and protect your back: 

  • Sit with your body pressed against the backrest and your buttocks as far back in the seat as possible. Your legs should be slightly bent when you fully depress the clutch and accelerator. 
  • Maintain a gap of about two fingers wide between the edge of the seat and the back of your legs. Your knees should not be higher than your hips and your thighs should lightly touch the seat cushion. 
  • Avoid rotating your spine when steering by keeping your shoulders in contact with the backrest. Twisting should also be avoided when leaving the car. Exit the vehicle by turning 90 degrees until both feet can be lowered to the ground. 
  • Adjust the steering wheel height so there is enough room above your thighs. Your arms should be bent when you steer and don’t grip the wheel too hard. 
  • Adjust the lumbar support of the backrest to protect the small of your back. If that does not help, place a rolled-up towel or lumber roll in the small of your back. 
  • Ensure the headrest is in the correct position. Align the top of the head restraint with the top of your head with under an inch of space between them. 
  • Take a break every two to three hours to move your back, hips and knees. Use this time to perform a few minutes of stretching exercises or walking. 
  • Adjust the seat so you are not too far or too close to the wheel. You should be able to comfortably rest your wrists on top of the steering wheel.

Drivers should also keep both hands on the steering wheel in a 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position. Driving with one hand twists the spine which can lead to back problems. Our trainer Stuart Mcmillan said steering with one hand also raises control issues and puts added “strain on the one hand and arm that are doing all the work”. 

Fellow trainer Anita Haddon-Davies added: “The risks of not holding the steering wheel correctly in the event of a collision and the air bag being deployed could damage the hand and fingers. The downward pressure of a hand resting on the gear stick could also damage the gearbox mechanism.”

These are some of the practical tips we share with our customers. For more advice or information on how we can manage the safety and efficiency of your drivers, email contactus@ttc-uk.com or call 03330 113 113.

Road safety tips