Being too comfortable in your car may end up killing you

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Common accessories you use to make yourself comfortable when you drive may increase your chance of injury during a crash.

Researchers at the Transurban Road Safety Centre at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) tested accessories such as the ones some drivers use to sit on, or place between their back and the seat, such as seat base cushions, seat back cushions, back support or head-rest cushions. After running 130 crash test simulations, they found that many may increase your risk of serious injury.

“Around a quarter of older drivers use an aftermarket accessory to improve their comfort. But these products often have not been tested for safety,” said Associate Professor Julie Brown, the Joint Director of the Transurban Road Safety Centre at NeuRA.

People over 65 are already nine times more likely to be seriously injured during a car accident. Chest injuries are the primary cause of death for older drivers, with poorly positioned seatbelts increasing the risk of such injuries. Testing proved that comfort accessories further “change the geometry of a seatbelt or the posture of a driver could increase the chance of these chest injuries in a crash” said Assoc. Prof. Brown.

“Our findings demonstrate the need to provide better guidance for older drivers on how to both be comfortable and safe while behind the wheel. Currently there is nowhere for people to go to get information about how to safely use these accessories,” she said.

She recommends drivers check whether seats can be adjusted before using an accessory.

“If a driver can adjust their seat instead of sitting on a cushion or placing something behind their back, it will likely be much safer,” she said.

Transurban Road Safety Centre will present their findings to clinicians, motor vehicle safety experts and older drivers in order to develop a set of safety recommendations on how to correctly use comfort accessories in cars, as well as which ones not to use.

Do you use car comfort accessories?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 9
  1. 0

    The Owners Manual for my car is over 400 pages. In the opening pages it recommends that the owner/driver should read it in full before driving that car. I’d say that few do. In that Manual it fully discusses correct settings for seat belts and the range of adjustments for the seat. Including adjustments for lumbar support.
    What more needs to be done to make the users of the vehicles be as safe as possible?

  2. 0

    Old people have more serious injuries because their bones are weak, their muscles have withered and their skin is thin.
    Their aches and pains culminate in cushions etc etc. The onus is on the manufacturer to provide a safe alternative as they have for children.

    • 0

      Also, many thinner people (many becoming thinner as they grow older) sink lower into bucket seats and are struggling to see over the bonnet even after raising seats, hence may use cushions.

      I agree manufacturers need to provider simple (not expensive) add-on accessories to make people more comfortable while covering the safety aspect. Car manufacturers have been really lazy to add new accessories / features for comfort. Even a simple facility such as bluetooth which avoids people touching phones to answer calls has not been a standard feature in many cars (and police don’t ask for it, as it may reduce their revenue).

    • 0

      Spot Guys. Think of us oldies too. It’s amazed me how much I’ve had to adjust all sorts of things in life to make things easier as I’ve aged. And I’m not even old yet! LOL

  3. 0

    I am losing patience with all these gloom and doom merchants making a living telling us what we are doing wrong. Every other day something is published with ‘shocking’ revelations about our weight, foods we eat, too much exposure to sunshine, too little exposure to sunshine, what medications to avoid, eating too many bananas etc etc and now using a cushion to be more comfortable in the car. Ignorance is bliss so leave us alone to wallow in our own indulgences.

  4. 0

    I am losing patience with all these gloom and doom merchants making a living telling us what we are doing wrong. Every other day something is published with ‘shocking’ revelations about our weight, foods we eat, too much exposure to sunshine, too little exposure to sunshine, what medications to avoid, eating too many bananas etc etc and now using a cushion to be more comfortable in the car. Ignorance is bliss so leave us alone to wallow in our own indulgences.

  5. 0

    The only problem I have had is the edge of the seatbelt continuously grazing my neck, making it painfull, injurious, and difficult to drive, so I bought one of those accessories that wraps padding around the top area of the seatbelt and is secured with Velcro. I’m assuming it’s legal because nothing is adjusted and the seatbelt works the same. The car manufacturers should already have a fix automatically installed for this. Do they think people want to drive around with the edge of a seatbelt gashing their neck?

  6. 0

    High wattage amplifiers and big sub woofer speakers got to be far too common going back ten or more years.

    Top brands of cars even advertised the power of their stereo before giving attention to the power of the engine

    Then we got anti hoon laws and driver distraction laws. The only remarkable thing about these laws is how long it took for them to come into effect.

    Some drivers argued that the vibration from the speakers kept them alert on long trips.

    The main problem I have with car seats, train seats and bus seats is the head rest pushes my head too far forward into an uncomfortable position. In My Renault I had to pull the head rests out and put them back in again, reverse face, but they are never too comfortable.

  7. 0

    I’d be more impressed with the findings if the experts studied why people feel the need for accessories. The one style fits all is a problem. I’m 5ft tall, my spouse is over 6 ft. I find the more lower modern car (like taxies now) impossible without a cushion. I drive a ’94 model because it’s seat is higher and doesn’t have a huge dip which puts one’s weight onto the lower back unlike the more level seat base in older models. Also, the fabric upholstered bucket seat grips one’s hips causing more extreme twisting the lower back when it’s necessary to look strongly over the shoulder. I use a smooth cushion to have more flexible hip movement and height. The passenger seat is even worse, as most cars no longer offer height adjustment or even back position adjustments. As more invalidist people are more often passengers (even temporarily with some ailment), they are stuck with very unaccomodating seating while being transported. Low and reclining seating is anathema for people with clinically proven busted lumber discs.



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