handsome driver in suit driving car and looking at side mirror

This month, we’re offering a grab bag of useful tips to help you better serve your clients, avoid health issues and tickets, and keep you safer. We also provide advice specific to the many seniors in our industry.

Ensuring Passenger Safety

TLC regulations, as well as New York State traffic Laws, state that ALL For-Hire Vehicles must park as close to the curb as possible when picking up and dropping off passengers. If an opening is within a reasonable distance at a loading area or unloading destination, drivers must use that space and park within 12 inches of the curb. This will not only ensure safe loading and unloading but also allows traffic to keep moving and shows you are considerate to other drivers. Always treat other motorists the way you would like to be treated.

Proper Driving Posture is Essential

The way you sit and hold the steering wheel affects you in more ways than most people realize. Maintaining a good posture helps you remain alert and in full control of your vehicle, and also reduces the likelihood of injuries and chronic health issues.

  • Support Your Back. Slide your tailbone as close to the seat back as possible. Aim for a two- to three-finger gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat. If your vehicle doesn’t allow for the proper position, a lumbar or back cushion may help.
  • Lift Your Hips. Make sure your thighs are supported along their entire length and your knees are slightly lower than your hips. This will increase circulation to your back while opening up your hips.
  • Don’t Sit Too Close. You should be able to comfortably reach the pedals and press them through their full range with your entire foot. Drivers whose chests were closer to the wheel were significantly more likely to suffer severe injuries to the head, neck and chest in front- and rear-end collisions.
  • Find the Right Height. Make sure your seat raises your eye level at least three inches above the steering wheel while allowing sufficient clearance between your head and the roof.
  • Lean Back (slightly). The angle of your seat back should be a little greater than a perpendicular 90 degrees. At 100 to 110 degrees, the seat puts the least pressure on your back. Leaning too far back forces you to push your head and neck forward, which can cause neck and shoulder pain and tingling in the fingers.
  • Set Your Headrest. Set the top of the headrest between the top of your ears and the top of your head; it should just touch the back of your head when you’re sitting comfortably. The headrest is also important for reducing whiplash injuries in a rear-end collision, according to NHTSA.
  • Use Lumbar Support. If your car has adjustable lumbar support, set it (using both the front-back and up-down controls) so you feel an even pressure from your hips to your shoulders. If your car doesn’t have automatic support, a lumbar pillow or even a rolled-up towel can help.
  • Adjust Your Mirrors. Prevent neck strain by making sure your rear-view and side mirrors are properly adjusted. You should be able to see the traffic behind you without having to crane your neck.
  • Take Breaks. Even when you’re maintaining the proper posture, fatigue will inevitably set in, especially when you’re driving for long periods. Listen to your body and take periodic breaks. Find a safe place to park and get out of the car and stretch.

Tips For Senior Drivers (Contributed by Dr. Todd Mitchell)

As you age, it becomes ever more important to take care of yourself, or risk chronic pain, a lack of energy and even a shorter life span.

  • Stop smoking, exercise regularly, nourish yourself with proper nutrition, read often to stimulate your brain and follow a healthy sleep schedule to rejuvenate your body.
  • If you are overweight, find a healthy way to slim down.
  • Get regular eye and ear exams.
  • Involve family members and friends in your health care.
  • Partner with your doctor for preventive maintenance.
  • Regularly practice your safe driving skills – your eyes, ears and reflexes are likely not what they once were.
  • Understand any medical conditions you may have developed over the years and treat yourself accordingly – including any medications that you need.

Sources: Hereford Insurance, Geico

Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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