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.

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?

Renew your NRMA Membership
Join the NRMA
 Find out more about Membership options

Road safety is in your hands – take the Fatality Free pledge

SIGN UP: Let’s make every day fatality free on our roads.

We remind NRMA Members to drive safely and take the Fatality Free Friday pledge today.

Fatality Free Friday (29 May 2015) is an initiative of the Australian Road Safety Foundation which calls for road users to make a promise to themselves, their family and friends to consciously drive safely and obey road rules.

Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Minister for Police, Troy Grant, has encouraged all motorists to join the initiative and take the pledge.

“Throughout my career I have seen countless road accidents, many of which could have been avoided, so I encourage all motorists to get join the initiative, follow the road rules, drive to the conditions and help avoid more accidents,” the Deputy Premier said.

So far this year, 137 people have died in road-related collisions across NSW, and Fatality Free Friday is a reminder to stay safe on our roads.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“Pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, passengers, and drivers alike, play an important role in keeping themselves and others safe on the road,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

“We all have a responsibility to make good decisions and act safely, whether behind the wheel, controlling the bike or crossing the road.

“Police will be out in force tomorrow, targeting the fatal five: speeding, drink-and-drug-driving, seatbelt use, driving tired and driver distractions.

“Take the pledge to reduce fatalities. Say ‘road safety is up to me’. Show Australia you are dedicated to keeping roads safe for everyone,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

Road users are also able to make their road safety pledge in person between 8am and 3pm tomorrow at World Square Shopping Centre, or by visiting or on the Fatality Free Friday Facebook page.

Fatality Free Friday is run by the Australian Road Safety Foundation, a not for profit organisation established to reduce road trauma across Australia.

Will you take the pledge?

Fostering safer drivers

NRMA Safe Driving School

SKILLING UP: Research also tells us that the more supervised driving practice a learner driver undertakes the lower the chances of an incident.

While safer roads and safer cars are fundamental to minimising crashes and fatalities on our roads, an often overlooked – but crucial factor – is driving ability.

A responsible and well-trained driver is far less likely to be involved in a crash, and prevention is better than cure.

The RMS Safer Drivers Course gives participants background knowledge about safe driving practices they might not otherwise have picked up while getting their L-plates or passing their driver knowledge test. It is also valuable for learner drivers, as it counts for 20 hours in their logbooks.

The first module includes an interactive classroom session where students learn the importance of low risk driving. The second module is a practical in-car session where an instructor helps each student put into practice the low risk mindset explored in module one.

It is not possible to ‘fail’ the course, so students can’t waste their money, but both modules must be completed before the 20 hours will be recorded in their logbooks.

The NRMA is one of the leading providers of the Safer Drivers Course. So far, more than 20,000 – or 33 per cent – of participants have completed the course through the NRMA. When asked what their initial motivation was for attending the course, many said it was the incentive of obtaining 20 hours credit in their log books. Upon finishing the course, however, many leave with a greater respect for the journey to becoming a safe and independent driver.

You can find out more about the Safer Drivers Course from NRMA Safer Driving. Gift vouchers for this course are available from the NRMA Online Shop.

If you were offered a free driving lesson from an expert, would you take it?

Reviewing the facts about side mirrors

REFLECTION: While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat.

REFLECTION: While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat.

In recent weeks, NRMA’s magazine Open Road has received hundreds of emails about convex side mirrors, with some readers questioning whether they pose a safety risk because they make it difficult for a driver to judge the distance of traffic approaching from the rear.

The benefit of a convex side mirror is that the shape acts like a wide-angle lens, reducing a driver’s blind spot and thereby lessening the risk of a collision while changing lanes.

“There is a strong argument that the first priority in rear-view mirror design is to enable the driver to sight a vehicle to the rear, rather than judge its distance accurately,” says a spokesperson from the NSW Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

“Drivers also need to be aware that while a rear-view mirror assists in overall road awareness, a look over the shoulder is still essential to ensure safe manoeuvring.”

While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat. In fact, a convex mirror can be replaced legally with a flat mirror, provided the mirror conforms to design rules and its reflective surface is made of shatter-proof material or safety glass.


The reflective surface of a driver’s side mirror must be at least 120mm x 200mm. Australian Design Rule 14/02 requires a driver’s side rear-view mirror to provide a field of view (as shown in the diagram below) of the road to the side and rear of the vehicle.

The ADRs specify that the driver’s side can have either a flat reflective surface or a convex reflective surface with a radius of curvature that is at least 1200mm.

The Road Users’ Handbook states that “before you change lanes, give your signal in plenty of time, check your mirrors and look over your shoulder for other vehicles”. The head check is necessary to ensure it is safe to change lanes – drivers should not depend on their mirrors alone.

What is your opinion on convex mirrors? Do you like or dislike?

Convex mirrors on cars