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Posture tips from Ford's 'Dr. Derriere'

Posted by Bill Griffith  May 28, 2009 10:41 AM

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The front seats in the 2010 Taurus SHO have a slow massage feature to help you avoid fatigue on long trips. (Ford)

Gas prices are lower and people are driving long distances. That brings us to seat comfort and the "Dr. of Derrieres," Ford seating comfort engineer Mike Kolich.

The good doctor, the man behind Ford’s multi-contour seat with Active Motion massage features (which will debut on the 2010 Taurus SHO), offers seven tips for your seating comfort, the most important of which are in making adjustments before starting out.

1. Press your foot firmly against the floorboard behind the brake pedal. Adjust the seat so your knee is slightly bent.

2. If you have an automatic transmission, your left foot should rest comfortably on the "dead pedal."

3. If you have a manual transmission, you should be able to fully depress the clutch without pointing your toes and minimal (if any) hip rotation. Your left leg should have a slight bend when the clutch is fully depressed.

4. The small of your back should be pressed firmly to the seatback.

5. If there is a height adjustment, place the seat at a comfortable height for vision and reach.

6. For most people, it’s best to recline the seatback a bit. This reduces fatigue. But how far back? If you extend your arms over the steering wheel, your wrists should rest atop the wheel with your elbows slightly bent. (Note: This isn’t a recommended driving position. Most safety experts recommend hands at 9 and 3 p.m., or 9:30 and 2:30 p.m.). You should be able to turn the wheel 180 degrees (half a turn) without having a hand fall off the wheel.

7. Finally. Click that seatbelt, making sure it crosses your hips.

8. Oh yes, that contour seat? We can attest: it IS comfortable.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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15 comments so far...
  1. This article is only a good start to a major problem I have found in my 2006 Forester. The "Active Head Restraint" feature results in the headreset being angled slightly forward resulting in a very uncomfortable and unnatural position for the neck and head - at least for me. It is also obvious in the photo of the Taurus SHO above. Angling the seat back does not seem to help. I have noted other new cars have this headrest position. I think the auto manufacturers should have consulted with some chiropractors and orthopedists before they "went forward" with this feature in order to develop a more anatomically correct seat. Has anyone else noted this problem?

    Posted by JM, Millbury, MA May 28, 09 12:55 PM
  1. why on earth is the 10 and two position not mentioned. I never even heard of 9 and 3. lets talk about 930 and 230. how is that possible. wouldnt both hands just end up on the bottem of the wheel? unless of course you have 4 hands.

    Posted by steven May 28, 09 12:55 PM
  1. These severly angled headrests had to become standard due to new crash testing and whiplash government regulations. Every new car sold in America will unfortunately have these angled headrests.

    Posted by Matt C May 28, 09 01:35 PM
  1. Man, where have you been? 10:00 and 2:00 is so last century. The "experts" have been advocating the 9:00 and 3:00 positions for many years......and I have to assume your remark on the 9:30 and 2:30 position is sarcasm because nobody is that dumb!

    Posted by a carguy May 28, 09 01:51 PM
  1. Head restraints are for safety in a crash, they are not for resting your head against. Sit up!

    Posted by Mark J. May 28, 09 03:42 PM
  1. 9:00 and 3:00 is so that your hands are pushed out rather than back into your face when the air bag deploys. This has been the recommendation since airbags have been standard safety features on cars here in the US.

    Posted by CarNut May 28, 09 03:58 PM
  1. The 9 and 3 postions have to do with protecting the driver in case the airbag deploys.

    Posted by Mike May 28, 09 04:40 PM
  1. When I took a course in college to get certified for the school's vans, the instructor told us to forget 10 and 2 and go with 8 and 4.

    He claimed that 10 and 2 encouraged you to pull on the wheel too hard and end up over steering, especially in emergency situations. The 8 and 4 position alows for a more delicate touch on the wheel.

    Thought to be honest I usually find my self at more like 11 and nothing.

    Posted by Anonymous May 28, 09 05:05 PM
  1. Both the Southern New England and NY regions of AAA recommend that the hands be placed in the 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock positions. As I recall, the recommendation from the Southern New England region was concerned with reducing the risk of injuries to the arms caused by a deploying airbag. The NY region recommendation referenced below focuses on reducing the temptation to cross the hands at the wrists in making a rapid turn. This too increases the risk of injury caused by the air bag, but in the opinion of NY AAA, also reduces control.

    (Some other AAA regions continue to recommend the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions. However, some steering wheels are not comfortable to hold in the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions.)

    Posted by gfmohn May 28, 09 07:44 PM
  1. steven, watch a racing driver some time... 9 & 3. It's the most balanced way to have your hands: their weight doesn't "pull down" the wheel in either direction as much at rest, and because your hands are at exact opposite sides of the wheel you're turning the whole wheel, not a relatively smaller section of it.

    Posted by jchristian May 29, 09 10:46 AM
  1. Ok people. it was a joke. and i will never watch car racing. ever. The point was we were ALL tought 10 & 2 . and 930-330 just sounds retarted. i drivie with one hand at noon and the other one texting. how do you all like that for safety.

    Posted by steven May 29, 09 02:07 PM
  1. So much so, I complained to the salesguy that sold us our car. The new restraints protect you in a crash, but will in the meantime cause neck and back pain from the uncomfortable sitting position.

    For those that think otherwise, I would be curious to know what model year and car they have as I cannot stand the head rest in our car. Yes you don't put your head on it, but when it sticks out 4 the 6 inches from the seat, it causes you to hunch forward.

    The new head rests completely stink.

    Posted by DW May 29, 09 03:21 PM
  1. These are not head RESTS, they are head RESTRAINTS, meant to try and protect you from whiplash in a crash.

    Posted by MG May 30, 09 06:06 PM
  1. The best hand control is 11and 1 because you can turn the left hand all the way to 5,--right hand all the way to 7 without moving the hands off the wheel. at any speed. the lower you put your hands the closer you put your arms to your body contact, and that will stop your turn radius,accident..

    Posted by Ernest Anthony June 1, 09 07:47 AM
  1. I cannot STAND those forward-pushing headrests/head restraints/whatever you want to call them. I just spent 8 hours driving a rental with them and was never in more pain in my life. When my old car dies, I'll have to get a used car without this kind of headrest/restraint/whatever. When those can no longer be found, I'll be forced to do some sort of surgery on the seat. Hmmm. Headrest turned backward? About 2-3" of extra padding at the back to bring that surface more inline with the head? Two days after driving that rental my neck is still in agony!!! (And that was with my jacket folded up and placed behind my shoulders to help a little.)

    Posted by Pam September 8, 09 03:28 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
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Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
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