Uncomfortable car seats are costing the UK economy billions

16 Oct 2019 by Sam Bisby

Uncomfortable car seats are costing the UK economy billions annually due to the burden on the NHS and employees taking sick leave. 

Auto Express reports:

‘More than a third of drivers have taken a day off work for back pain caused by poor quality car seats.’

‘Uncomfortable car seats cost the UK economy billions of pounds a year.’, according to research from Volvo Car UK.

Around 32.4 million people are employed in the UK, and up to 68% of these people use their car for work purposes. Volvo conducted research into 2,000 employees who matched these criteria and discovered that 12% had taken up to two days off work due to back pain caused by uncomfortable or poor-quality car seats. 

They also found that 13% of these people have had to take up to four days off work, while 5% have taken a full week off work. This adds up to around 2.2 million people and has resulted in an estimated annual loss for the UK economy of around £8.8 billion. 

A third of drivers have had to see a doctor or physiotherapist regarding their back pain which they believe to be caused by poor-quality and uncomfortable car seats while driving. This has been estimated to cost the NHS around £191.94 million in hospital visits and GP appointments.

Research has also found that more men have taken time off work due to back pain than women. 50% of men said they’d had to call in sick because of car seat-caused back pain, whereas just 25% of women reported having to take the day off work with the same issue.

Volvo believes this may be because on average men spend more time driving than women. Their study found that male participants on average drove around 60 miles every day, double the average driving distance of the women in their study.

Volvo also found that one in five drivers changed their car because they found the seats in their previous vehicle uncomfortable and lacking support. One in 10 states that some of their family and friends will not get in their car due to the seats being uncomfortable. 

The  British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has provided some tips below to help to prevent drivers from experiencing back pain while they are driving. 

1. Make adjustments — If you share a car, make sure the seat position is adjusted to suit you each time you get in. The back of the seat should be set slightly backward so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.

2. Steering wheel — Once you have adjusted your seat correctly, your hands should fall naturally on the steering wheel, with just a slight bend in the arms. If the wheel is too high and far away, tension will build up in your shoulders and upper back. If it is too low and close to you, the wheel may be touching your legs, which will reduce your ability to turn it freely, putting a strain on the wrists and the muscles of the upper back.

3. Airbags — Once you have adjusted your seat and steering wheel, ensure that the adjustments allow for the recommended ten-inch (25.5cm) distance between yourself and the airbag cover in your steering wheel.

4. Mirrors — Set your mirror positions to suit you before you drive off. Your reactions must be quick, so you should not need to move your head a lot. The mirror positions should allow you to see all around the car with the movement of your eyes with minimal head movement.

5. Relax  A relaxed driving position reduces stress on the spine, allowing your seat to take your weight.

6. Take regular breaks  The BCA advises that you should stop and stretch your legs (and arms) at least every two hours, more often if possible. You should certainly stop more frequently if you are feeling any discomfort.

We hope you have found this blog helpful and have picked up some tips on the best way to reduce back pain while driving. Now we want to know which car you think has the most comfortable seats. Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  

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