ALMOST half of all British drivers (48%) are suffering from a new medical condition called repetitive driving injury (RDI), caused by poor driving posture.
According to the new study by eBayMotors.co.uk, bad seating positions can cause the five most common RDIs: foot cramp (suffered by 81% of the UK), lower back pain (74%), stiff neck (74%), side ache (74%), and headache/eye strain (73%).
Almost two million British drivers (6.5%) start to suffer from these after just 15 minutes driving with 9% of drivers experiencing symptoms after driving 22 miles.
Charlie Coney of eBayMotors.co.uk said: “Despite eight out of 10 drivers having suffered from RDI's, only one in five (21%) consider car comfort an important factor when purchasing a car. Choosing the car best suited to their driving style should be an increased priority for all car buyers to avoid these symptoms."
To help car buyers avoid RDI's, eBayMotors.co.uk worked with ergonomics professor, Mark Porter, of Loughborough University, to identify the four most common driving positions and their related problems.
The results reveal we are a nation of 'Racers', 'Pimps', 'Multi-taskers' and 'Rollercoasters'.
The Rollercoaster (37% of the population)
How to spot: Driver is leaned forward and sat upright, seat forward, bent legs, bent arms
Most common RDI symptoms: Shoulder pain, neck strain, leg cramp and side ache.
Relax! Tense and nervous drivers are more likely to adopt this position leading to tense shoulders so try to avoid driving situations that stress you out
When buying a car, go for one with a fully adjustable interior package. Ensure the height of the back rest reaches the shoulders and does not obstruct 'rearward vision' Try and sit back more into the seat to get better back support
Take regular breaks where you can get out of the car to stretch your legs
The Multi-tasker (26% of UK)
How to spot: Driver has straight back, arms bent, one hand on gear stick. 45% of mobile office workers are Multi-Taskers
Most common RDI symptoms: Headaches and eye strain, feet cramp, pain in coccyx
45% of multi-taskers drive for work but they should try not to use the car as an office - twisting to access paperwork and the laptop can be more damaging to your back and neck than driving.
Regularly adjust your seat on long journeys to help your coccyx
Consider changing to an automatic car to avoid constant gear changes and keep two hands on the wheel.
The Racer (19%)
How to spot: Straight arms, seat reclined, straight legs, low driving position
Most common RDI symptoms: Side aches and lumbar pain
Be aware low seat positions (and bucket seats) provide limited support for the lower back and sides. To counteract assume a fairly upright position.
Knees should not be higher than your hips - it reminds you to sit up
The Pimp (8%)
How to spot: Seat inclined, arm on window ledge/outside window, one hand on wheel. Drivers aged 25-35year old men are most likely to be 'Pimps' behind the wheel.
Most common RDI symptoms: arm and shoulder ache from resting on the window ledge.
Sit in a fairly upright position, with knees lower than hips. You should be able to reach the accelerator and brake without stretching your legs
Roll up the window and keep both arms on the steering wheel.
Professor Porter's said: "Whichever position you drive in, the two most important things to remember when choosing your next car are:
The greater the number of adjustable features within a car, the greater the likelihood of achieving a comfortable driving posture.
Important adjustments include an in/out and up/down steering wheel and a seat with independent height and cushion tilt so you can set the height of the seat for headroom/vision and then control the cushion angle for ease of pedal operation and comfort.
Further research highlights:
Women start to feel RDI quicker than men, with 58% of women complaining of car-ache in the first two hours of a journey, compared to only 46% of men
Drivers of 4x4s are most prone to RDI's
Drivers in the Midlands (54%) are most likely to suffer
Motorists in the South East are the least knowledgeable about how to set up their car to avoid pain and discomfort
(Survey results based on an independent ICM Poll of 1,000 respondents on May 8)