From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

On The Road Again, MSDs and Drivers

A new survey from Loughborough University in the UK shows that behind the wheel time relates to back pain in drivers.

Loughborough researchers J. M. Porter and D. E. Gyi led the cross-sectional interview survey of low-to high-mileage drivers. The results showed that exposure to driving was associated with increased leave from work due to low back pain. Low back pain is often categorized as a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). It also showed that those who drive as part of their job appear to be more at risk from low back trouble than those whose jobs primarily involve sitting (not driving) and standing activities. The survey also found that the frequency of reported discomfort also increased with higher annual mileage driven.

Boosting claims of improved ergonomics from car manufacturers, drivers of cars with more adjustable driving packages had fewer reported musculoskeletal troubles.

Findings like this are no surprise to some car makers . In 2001 Volvo, for instance, released its Safety Concept Car (SCC). The SCC looks for the driver’s eyes. Once it finds them, it brings them to the optimal position to view the road. That’s right, once the car knows where your eyes are, it automatically adjusts the seat, pedals and controls so that your eyes can be where they should be-on the road ahead. Also, the SCC back seats are height adjustable to accommodate children too big for a car seat, but too small to safely sit in adult size seat.

Looking for better ergonomics for car and driver is the specialty of in the Vehicle Safety Research Group at. Loughborough University. Some of their ongoing research into humans and their interaction with automobiles includes: visual demands in the driving task, navigational requirements of older drivers, and creating databases of ergonomics information for automotive designers.