Finding your optimal driving position

UP STRAIGHT: Your backside should be placed towards the back of the seat for support of your lower spine.

UP STRAIGHT: Your backside should be placed towards the back of the seat for support of your lower spine.

Ensuring your car is set up correctly for every journey not only provides you with optimal comfort, it will also help to ensure your journey is a safe one.

Here NRMA Safer Driving take you through a few simple tips from your feet to your head to help you ensure you are set up in your car correctly.


  • Your right heel should be placed on the floor between the accelerator and the brake. Your foot should able to swivel between the accelerator and brake without lifting off the floor.
  • Your left heel should rest on the footrest provided in most vehicles on the left side wall of the foot well. It should be placed here at all times for an automatic vehicle and when not in use for the clutch in a manual vehicle.

Legs and back

  • There should be a slight bend in your knees which not only aids in comfort but  also acts as a brace in case of a crash and allows for better absorption of road bumps while driving. Straight legs do not provide the required dexterity required to operate the foot controls correctly.
  • Your backside should be placed towards the back of the seat for support of your lower spine and posture.
  • Move the car seat forward or back to ensure you are not too far away from the foot controls and the steering wheel. You can also move the car seat up and down in most modern vehicles.

Steering wheel

  • Most modern vehicles have numerous adjustments for the steering wheel which is paramount for safe deployment of the airbags. Steering wheels commonly can be adjusted up down and also in and out in telescopic manner.
  • The steering wheel should be lowered as much as possible without blocking your view of instrument information such as speedometer. Ideally it should sit facing towards your chest (not face) with approximately an A4 page distance between your and the middle of steering wheel. Any closer than A4 page length could result in an increased risk of injury in the event of an airbag deployment in a crash.
  • After making the adjustments mentioned above, place both wrists on top of the steering wheel.  Your arms should be completely straight. This allows you to have a slight bend in your arms when returning your hands to the normal holding of the steering wheel position.  This again helps aid with the correct amount of dexterity for steering and use of auxiliary controls.

 Seat Belt

  • Seat-belt_22.07Low, Flat, Firm: There should be no twists or knots in the belt. Seat belts are designed to be fitted across the strong points of the skeleton. Low, flat and firm across the hips and shoulder.
  • The seat belt height can be adjusted in most vehicles via a mechanism which slides up and down the inside right pillar of the car. A rule of thumb is for the seat belt adjuster to sit approximately even with your right ear.

Head Rest

  • Designed to support your head in a sudden impact, and reduce neck injury and whip lash.
  • The middle of the headrest should sit around the rounded position of your skull where it meets your spinal column.

Now that you are all set up correctly, you can ensure you have a safe and comfortable drive, every drive.

Do you check your optimal position regularly? Was this something you were taught when learning to drive?

Check out NRMA Safer Driving for more advice and to book a lesson.

Road rules for pedestrians


Blog updated on 20 August 2015.

Road aren’t only for motorists and cyclists - they are for pedestrians too. As with cars, there are a number of rules, some better known than others, that govern how pedestrians use the road - as well as fines for breaking them.

Fatal crashes on NSW roads are up this year compared to the same period last year, as is the number of pedestrians killed. There have been 41 pedestrian fatalities so far this year. In the same period in 2014, 28 pedestrians were killed.

Part 14 of Road Rules 2014 covers pedestrians. Some of the key rules in this section are:

230  Crossing a road – general

  1. A pedestrian crossing a road:
    (a)  must cross by the shortest safe route, and
    (b)  must not stay on the road longer than necessary to cross the road safely.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

236  Pedestrians not to cause a traffic hazard or obstruction

  1. A pedestrian must not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver.
    Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.
  2. A pedestrian must not unreasonably obstruct the path of any driver or another pedestrian.

238  Pedestrians travelling along a road (except in or on a wheeled recreational device or toy)

  1. A pedestrian must not travel along a road if there is a footpath or nature strip adjacent to the road, unless it is impracticable to travel on the footpath or nature strip.

Read the full road rules for pedestrians.

Most of the Rules for pedestrians are taught to us as children. However, pedestrian deaths continue to be significant. As the road is a shared zone, it is important that all users respect and adhere to the rules to make it the safe place that it can be.

Should the rules for pedestrians be better policed?

NSW School Zones back in operation

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure  kids have a safe and happy start to the school holidays.

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure kids have a safe and happy start to the school term.

We remind motorists that School Zones are back in action in NSW from Tuesday 6 October to Friday 18 December 2015 (inclusive) and Monday 12 October to Friday 18 December 2015 (inclusive) for ACT.  

The 40km/h school speed zones operate across NSW and ACT at all school sites on gazetted school days (including school development days). Motorists should drive no faster than 40km/h through school zones.

Most school zones operate from 8:00am to 9.30am and from 2.30pm to 4pm on gazetted school days. School zones operate and are enforced on pupil free days because pupil free days can vary from school to school.

Consistent operation of school zones aims to reduce driver confusion, which improves the safety of school children. There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW and ACT. They are identified by red/orange school zone signs to show non-standard times. Signs at these schools show the times that apply.

Do you get stressed driving in school zones?

Crash risk and the colour of your car


The notion that there is a relationship between car colour and crash risk may initially sound ridiculous, equivalent to the belief that red cars go faster.

Nor is it likely that many people in the market for a new car would have ‘colour’ amongst airbags and electronic stability programs on their list of desired safety features.

Yet when light conditions are taken into consideration, there is a clear statistical relationship between a vehicle’s colour and its crash risk, as detailed in a report by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in 2007. Compared to white, colours such as black, blue, grey and others ranking lower on the visibility index were associated with higher crash risk in daylight hours.

MUARC’s research remains the most up to date research on this topic. It suggests crash severity is linked to vehicle colour, with “low visibility colours having higher risks of more severe crashes.”

Previous studies

A study in Epidemiology from 2002 found white and yellow cars had a slightly lower risk of being passively involved in a crash. This was followed by a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) in 2003 concluding that silver cars were 50% less likely than white cars to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury. The association between silver and reduced risk continued even when confounding factors were adjusted.

Both these studies, according to MUARC, were inconclusive. These two studies, as well as prior ones, left the role of colour in influencing crash risk as being uncertain, prompting MUARC to undertake a more in-depth study.

The MUARC study

NRMA vehicle specialist Jack Haley said the MUARC study remains arguably the most comprehensive to probe the link between vehicle colour and crash risk.

“Previous international studies have examined vehicle visibility and colour but have not fully taken into account other factors that may have an impact on crash risk, such as driver demographics,” Mr Haley said.

Using crash data from Victoria and Western Australia, MUARC used the colour classifications black, blue, brown cream, fawn, gold, green, grey, maroon, white mauve, orange, pink, purple, red, silver and yellow, with all variables considered under the nearest category. Also included in the study were conditions such as light at the time of the crash, vehicle type, crash severity and state. Commercial vehicles and taxis were excluded.


The result compared white vehicles with all other coloured vehicles. MUARC’s research showed there were a number of colours related to high risk, including:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Green
  • Red
  • Silver

None of the colours tested were statistically safer than white, though some had equal relative crash risk.

The association between colour and crash risk was highest during daylight hours, the risk associated with the above colours during this period up by 10%. The link was reduced during darker driving hours due to colour being less distinguishable and headlights further reducing colour’s effects. Results also showed that environmental factors had an impact on the relationship between colour and crash risk.

Of the study, Dr Soames Job of the RTA’s NSW Centre for Road Safety said the results were useful but other factors were more influential on crash risk and for drivers to be aware of this.

“Driving a darker coloured car can increase your crash risk,” Dr Job said, “but that is nowhere near as influential a factor as your driving behaviour. By driving within the speed limit, not driving after drinking and avoiding driving when tired, you increase your safety on the road.”

Is colour something you’ve taken into consideration when buying a car? Are there any colours you have difficulty seeing in certain conditions?

BLOG first published in 2007 – updated  23/6/15

GPS, Compasses, Cows: How to find your location when broken down


MOO: There have been instances where the name of a farmhouse or breed of cow in a paddock has helped our staff to locate a breakdown.

No one ever plans to breakdown, especially in an unfamiliar area when away from home. When this happens the first instinct is to look for help, more often than not from the NRMA.

On receiving your call, the call centre representative will ask: “What is your location? Are you in a safe place?”. If you don’t recognise your surroundings, this can be hard to answer. Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can help us find you, so we can get you back on the road again in no time.

NRMA Smartphone App

The NRMA Smartphone App is free to download and is available for Apple, Android and Windows devices. When you first download the app, enter your membership number and postcode details. These will then be stored for future use. When you need to request Roadside assistance, simply log on to the app and follow the steps. You don’t need to call and wait in the queue. The location of the callout will be sent using your smartphone’s GPS so we will find you.

GPS Units and Mobile Phones

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are available through Satellite Navigation Units and many smartphone mapping applications, including Google Maps. Most of the time, your GPS device or smartphone will provide the street or road name where you are broken down within a 1km radius in Metropolitan Areas or a 5km radius in rural locations.

Coordinates from a GPS unit or Compass App (under ‘Utilities’ on an iPhone or you can download on other smartphones) can also be used if you are unfamiliar with your location. Our call centre staff can also guide you through the process of retrieving this information from your phone or GPS unit.

Local Area Knowledge

If you don’t have a smartphone or GPS, any details about a location can help us find you, especially in rural areas. Information such as the direction you are travelling or approximate distance from the last town can be helpful.

There have been many instances where local information such as the name of a farmhouse or breed of cow in a paddock has helped our staff to locate a breakdown. Our call centre staff will try to obtain as much information through questioning and often conference a call with a local contractor to help us work out where you are so we can get to you quicker.

Emergency Phones 

You may have seen various emergency bays with phones in your travels along freeways and highways and wondered what they do. Each emergency phone has a three digit serial number which provides its exact location and direct calls to 13 11 11 so we can arrange Roadside Assistance. In the event of an emergency or accident, our staff can transfer a call to an emergency service or insurance provider.

If you happen to break down in an area you are unfamiliar with, don’t panic. Just contact the NRMA, follow the tips above and be sure to find a safe spot to wait. Then a friendly NRMA Patrol will attend as soon as possible. In the meantime, safe driving!

Have you ever broken down in an unfamiliar location? What did you do?

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