How Close Can You Safely Sit to the Steering Wheel?

We’ve all seen them. They’re in traffic, hands gripped to the wheel for dear lift, nose almost touching the wheel, staring intently ahead at the red light. Is it safe? No.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises all adults keep a 10-inch minimum between their breastbone and the air bag cover. To ensure you’re seated in the safest position, measure from the center of the steering wheel for drivers and on the dashboard directly in front of the front seat passenger.

But, what if you’re short, elderly, or of small stature? The NHTSA advises they should, to the best of their abilities ensure they “maintain a proper seating position and move the seat as far back as possible.”

If you do have a small stature and are shopping for a new vehicle, spend time in the vehicle testing the steering wheel and seat adjustments to ensure you’re able to safely ride and operate the vehicle before you purchase it.

While it is important to wear your seatbelt at all times, the NHTSA advises pregnant women to follow specialized safety procedures when driving stating, “Pregnant women should follow the same advice as other adults, making sure the lap belt is positioned low on the abdomen below the fetus, with the shoulder belt worn normally.”

Most importantly, always check your vehicle alert lights when you start the vehicle. Airbag readiness lights should always illuminate for the driver and the passenger (if you have a front seat passenger). If a light does not illuminate it could mean a significant problem with the airbag and but your safety in jeopardy.

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