Academic journal article Human Factors

Vehicle and Driver Attributes Affecting Distance from the Steering Wheel in Motor Vehicles

Academic journal article Human Factors

Vehicle and Driver Attributes Affecting Distance from the Steering Wheel in Motor Vehicles

Article excerpt

The current study was designed to confirm that female drivers sit closer to the steering wheel than do male drivers and to investigate whether this expected difference in sitting position is attributable to differences in the physical dimensions of men and women. Driver body dimensions and multiple measures of sitting distance from the steering wheel were collected from a sample of 150 men and 150 women. The results confirmed that on average, women sit closer to the steering wheel than men do and that this difference is accounted for by variations in body dimensions, especially height. This result suggests that driver height may provide a good surrogate for sitting distance from the steering wheel when investigating the role of driver position in real-world crash outcomes. The potential applications of this research include change to vehicle design that allows independent adjustment of the relative distance among the driver's seat, the steering wheel, and the floor pedals.

INTRODUCTION

Evidence exists that women are at greater risk of injury than men as a result of road crashes. In Australia, serious injury rates (resulting in hospitalization) have fallen more sharply for male than for female car drivers, and in 1995 the serious injury rate per 100 million km driven was 8.35 for female drivers and 7.25 for male drivers (Attewell, 1998).

Similar crash patterns have been observed in the United States. From 1983 to 1990, there was a decrease in fatal accidents per distance traveled (Massie, Campbell, & Williams, 1995). Although women had a lower fatality rate than men during this period, they had a higher rate of injury.

Reasons for the greater risk of injury in women may relate to the car (e.g., age and size, type of accident) or to the driver (e.g., physical structure and driving experience; Over, 1998). Another factor in the type and severity of injury outcomes is the steering wheel assembly. In 1948, Woodward noted the role of the steering wheel in chest injuries, and since that time his conclusions have been confirmed and extended.

Dalmotas (1980) studied injuries among 314 fully restrained occupants, of whom 223 were drivers. He found that 60% of drivers suffered an injury of moderate or greater than moderate severity (Abbreviated Injury Scale Score of 2 or more; Committee on Injury Scaling, 1980) to the head or face, 33% to the shoulder/chest, and 15% to the upper extremities. The steering assembly was involved in 20% of head injuries, 82% of facial injuries, 40% of shoulder/chest injuries, and 63% of upper extremity injuries.

Blower and Campbell (1994) analyzed crash records from the National Accident Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System for the years 1988 to 1992. For drivers of vehicles without air bags (N = 12 302), the steering assembly was the most common cause of injury, causing 3.4 of the 12.4 total injuries per 100 drivers.

Differences in sitting distance between men and women may help to explain the higher rate of injury sustained by female drivers. Parkin, Mackay, and Cooper (1995) used distances between the head and the steering wheel to show that women sit closer to the steering wheel than do men and are therefore more prone to head injury from it. Other studies, primarily concerned with injury sustained from air bag deployment, have also found that women sit closer to the steering wheel than do men (De Leonardis, Ferguson, & Pantula, 1998; Segui-Gomez et al., 1999).

The current study was designed to confirm that female drivers sit closer to the steering wheel than do male drivers and to investigate whether this expected difference in sitting position is attributable to differences in the physical dimensions of men and women. Vehicle size was also included in the design. Other research has indicated that driver sitting position varies with car size (De Leonardis et al., 1998).

METHOD

Participants

The study was conducted in car parks in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, by two final-year university students who were trained in measuring body dimensions and distances from the driver to the steering wheel. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.