March 18, 2023

How Far Away Should You Be from the Steering Wheel?

far away should you be from the steering wheel

Driving is a considerable responsibility that demands attention, concentration, and the capacity to respond promptly to varying road conditions.

Although many drivers understand the significance of adhering to traffic laws and regulations, they might neglect a critical component of safe driving: the correct steering wheel position.

Importance of Proper Seating Position

Before discussing the ideal distance from the steering wheel, it’s important to understand why proper seating position is crucial while driving.

The correct seating position can help you maintain better control over the car, reduce the risk of injury in case of an accident, and minimize fatigue during long drives. Here are some reasons why a proper seating position matters:

Better control:

When you sit in the correct position, you can easily reach the pedals, steering wheel, and other controls without straining your arms or legs. This can help you maintain better control over the car, especially in emergencies.

Reduced injury risk:

In case of an accident, sitting too close to the steering wheel can increase the risk of chest and head injuries from airbag deployment. On the other hand, sitting too far away can reduce the effectiveness of the seatbelt and increase the risk of whiplash injuries.

Minimized fatigue:

Sitting in an uncomfortable or awkward position can cause muscle strain and fatigue, making it harder to focus on the road and react to sudden changes in traffic.

Factors Affecting Ideal Distance from Steering Wheel

The ideal distance from the steering wheel can vary depending on several factors such as:

Driver’s height:

Taller drivers may need to sit farther away from the steering wheel to avoid knee or leg interference, while shorter drivers may need to sit closer to the pedals to reach them comfortably.

Steering wheel size and position:

The size and position of the steering wheel can affect the driver’s reach and comfort. A larger steering wheel may require the driver to sit farther away, while a smaller one may allow a closer seating position.

Car type:

The type of car can also affect the ideal distance from the steering wheel. For example, sports cars with lower seats may require a closer seating position, while SUVs or vans with higher centers may need a farther distance.

Recommended Distance from Steering Wheel

While the ideal distance from the steering wheel can vary depending on individual factors, there are some general guidelines that can help most drivers maintain a safe and comfortable seating position. Here are some recommendations:

Keep a minimum distance of 10 inches:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends keeping a minimum distance of 10 inches between the driver’s chest and the center of the steering wheel. This distance can help reduce the risk of injuries from airbag deployment in case of an accident.

Aim for a 120-degree angle:

The NHTSA also recommends aiming for a 120-degree angle between the driver’s chest and the steering wheel. This angle can help ensure a comfortable and ergonomic seating position allowing easy control access.

Keep knees slightly bent:

To maintain better control over the pedals, keep your knees slightly bent and not fully extended while sitting in the driver’s seat.

Adjust the seat height:

Adjust the seat height so that your eyes are level with the top of the steering wheel or the center of the windshield. This position can help improve visibility and reduce neck strain.

Tips for Adjusting Seating Position

Here are some tips for adjusting your seating position to ensure a safe and comfortable driving experience:

Adjust the seat distance first:

Start by adjusting the seat distance from the pedals and steering wheel. Move the seat backward or forward until you can comfortably reach the pedals and fully depress them without straining your legs.

Adjust the backrest angle:

Once you have adjusted the seat distance, adjust the backrest angle so that your lower back is supported and not slouching. Avoid reclining the seat too far back, as it can reduce your visibility and reaction time.

Adjust the steering wheel position:

Adjust the steering wheel position so that it is within easy reach and not blocking your view of the instrument panel. Tilt the steering wheel up or down to avoid glare from the sun or headlights.

Use seat cushions or lumbar support:

If needed, use seat cushions or lumbar support to improve your seating position and reduce discomfort. Avoid using thick cushions that can interfere with your reach or control over the car.

Take breaks:

Even with proper seating position, driving for long periods can cause fatigue and muscle strain. Take regular breaks to stretch your legs, rest your eyes, and refresh your concentration.


Maintaining the proper distance from the steering wheel is crucial for safe and comfortable driving.

As a general rule, aim for a minimum distance of 10 inches and a 120-degree angle between the chest and steering wheel.

Remember to prioritize safety and comfort over style or convenience when adjusting your seating position.