A SURVEY OF WHEEL AND PEDAL LAYOUT, HEADROOM AND KERBHEIGHT
IN CURRENT MOTOR CARS
BRYAN MCILWRAITH Bsc. (Hons) Ost.Med. DO.
(PLEASE READ THESE NOTES BEFORE GOING TO THE LINK BELOW)
There are great difficulties in measuring the interior of a car since there are no straight lines or levels to measure from. The system used in this survey established a datum line across the window openings using a rigid plastic profile. From this the centre of the seat back could be measured, and the Wheel Offset (WO) calculated from this in cm (4, Fig2). The angle the steering wheel made with this profile (and hence with the driver) could also be calculated (5). The figures for Wheel Angle (WA) column give a range of 0 (good) to 5 (awful). see pictures
Pedal offset is extremely difficult to measure in a way that gives any real meaning, but is quite obvious to the experienced eye, and here is based on a visual assessment (6)
Headroom was measured in two ways; the total interior height (H1 Fig1), and the height from the back of the seat squab to the roof with the seat in its lowest position (H2). Headroom was also assessed by the author sitting in the seat. H2 is the more important figure for taller drivers. Models marked * had sunroofs fitted; the same model without will have approximately 2 – 5 cm more headroom.
A comparative measure of Kerb Height was obtained by using a spirit level to measure from the top of the author’s thigh to the ground with the seat in the lowest position (KH). A low Kerb Height of less than 60 cm may cause difficulty getting out of the vehicle, especially for taller drivers. A higher Kerb Height figure is generally better, but once it exceeds 75cm (as in many 4x4s) it again causes difficulty when exiting the vehicle.
Seat Score (SS) is based on the amount of adjustable features available, and the presence of an adjustable lumbar support, and other features such as lateral support and the firmness of the foam. The higher the figure the better.
In all cases the measurements were rounded in favour of the manufacturers.
In general, car design has steadily improved since my first major survey in 1993. The layout of many models is significantly better, with pedal offset largely disappearing. However many models still feature noticable wheel offset and wheel angle. In this area there some surprises, with some of the manufacturers previously known for attention to ergonomics apparently taking retrograde steps. Many cars have increased in size generally, and this has allowed for greater headroom.
Fig 1, H,1 H2, & Kerb Height
Fig 2, 4=Wheel offset, 5=Wheel angle, 6=Pedal offset
Link to tables of car measurements click here
McIlwraith B. An Analysis of the Driving Position in the Modern Motor Car. British Osteopathic Journal Vol XI pp27-34 1993
McIlwraith B. Seating and Associated Back Conditions. Automotive Interiors International - Seating Review 1994. ISSN 0967-0386 pub Turret Group plc.
McIlwraith B. Loss of the Lumbar Curve in the Driving Seat. British Osteopathic Journal Vol XIX pp19-23 1996 ISSN 0263-5194
Keegan J J. Alterations of the Lumbar Curve Related to Posture and Seating. J Bone & Joint Surgery Vol 35A No3 July pp589-603 1953
Kelsey J L . Hardy R J. Driving of Motor Vehicles as a Risk Factor for Acute Herniated Lumbar Intervertebral Disc. American J. Epidemiology 102 (1) pp63-73 1975
Porter J M, Porter C S, Lee V J A. A Survey of Driver Discomfort. Contemporary Ergonomics.pp262-267. Pub Taylor & Francis 1992
Andersson G B J, Murpy R W, Ortengren R, Nachemson A L. The Influence of Backrest Inclination and Lumbar Support on Lumbar Lordosis. Spine Vol 4(1) pp 52-58. 1979.
· · · · · · Pedal Offset
· · · · · · Wheel Offset
· · · · · · Wheel Angle
· · · · · · Higher Kerbheight
· · · · · · Sufficient Headroom
· · · · · · Adjustable Lumbar Support
· · · · · · Power Steering
· · · · · · Servo Brakes
· · · · · · Automatic Gearbox