If you only make one New Year's resolution this year, consider making a commitment to healthier driving

We all do it. Down goes the tree, in comes the New Year, and we all vow to do better.

More sleep, more vegetables, more exercise - but before we know it, the Christmas cheese is back out, the gym bag is still on the hook, and all your good intentions seem to have flown out of a window.

But this year, we've done the hard work for you and found a resolution that'll not only be easier to stick to, but will make you a better driver.

We all use our cars every day. From the school run to the daily commute, to nipping into town on an errands run, to long runs up and down the motorway, you probably hop in and out of your car more times than you realise.

But have you ever considered whether the way you're driving is healthy or not?

We're all guilty of slumping down, or putting our hand in an awkward position on the steering wheel. Occasionally this isn't going to hurt, but if you're regularly driving your car with your seat in the wrong position, this could cause you some aches and pains.

So for a happier and healthier 2022, follow these tips, and enjoy the smug feeling when everyone else around you is complaining of back pain.

Renault Kadjar interior

Ergonomic tips for driving

Vehicle designers use ergonomics when they're designing the interior of cars, so that the cabin doesn't just look good, but it also means you can sit comfortably without putting too much strain on your body.

But each car you drive will still need some level of adjustment to make it right for you.

Newer cars have better options for adjustment as technology gets cleverer. If you want to benefit from the latest improvements in ergonomics, opting for a lease and switching into a new car every three to five years will not only be kinder on your wallet than buying outright, but you'll benefit from the latest upgrades in technology.

But whatever car you drive, following the below tips will make sure you're in the healthiest driving position every time:

  1. Make small adjustments to your posture every 30-60 minutes
  2. Make sure your seat is high enough to give you a good vision of the road, but not so high your head is brushing the ceiling
  3. Check the angle of the seat, and make sure it's not reclined too far back; an angle of 100-110 degrees is perfect
  4. Position your seat and your steering wheel so that you can comfortably reach the pedals without moving from the backrest, and that your arms aren't stuck out straight
  5. Rather than keeping your hands at 'ten' and 'two', research has shown that keeping your hands at 'three' and 'nine' on the steering wheel is much more comfortable
  6. Adjust the head restraint so it's as high as the top of your head, and as close to the back of your head as it can be 
Infotainment system

Stay alert on the road

Sleepiness and fatigue are common among drivers, particularly on long trips.

At every moment while driving there's a multitude of things to stay aware of, including signals, lights, your physical location, and other road users.

Reducing distractions, like mobile phones, excessively loud music, intense conversations with passengers, and eating on the go, can help you stay more aware of your surroundings and enable you to react quickly to any situations that arise.

Try and combine trips into one. The more trips out you take, the more risk there is.

Organising shopping trips and appointments into one long journey is not only safer but much more economical and will help you save money on fuel.

An awareness of vehicle maintenance is important, too. Poor tyre wear, ineffective brakes, broken signals, or any other malfunctioning lights can increase the risk of a crash. So, if you've been ignoring any dashboard lights over the festive season, be sure to get them checked out as soon as possible.

Woman driving a car

Long journeys

Longer journeys can wreak havoc on your mind and body. It's important to be mindful of how you're driving on longer trips, and, if you can, share the driving with someone else.

Sitting in one position for a long time can take a toll on your body. Be aware of your posture while you're hurtling (at the speed limit) up and down the motorway, and make sure to take 15-minute breaks every two hours.

During these breaks, take a short walk around the service station to stretch out your legs, and try to stretch your arms and back out too. Staying hydrated will also help your brain to stay alert, so make sure to stock up on overpriced bottles of water while you've stopped - or, if you're more sensible than us, take a reusable bottle with you and fill it up when you can.

And enjoy the trip!

Listening to music, an audiobook, or a podcast that you like will help reduce you stress levels and keep you calmer on the roads, even when everyone else around you insists on driving badly.

Ford Puma

Your car

Have you ever given the car you're driving any thought when it comes to ergonomics and comfort, or do you go for practicality and aesthetics?

A Loughborough University study found that around 9.7% of older people found getting in and out of the car uncomfortable, and we're sure they're not alone. When you're shopping for your next lease, it's worth bearing in mind how the car will make you feel.

If you find it tricky to get in and out, opt for a vehicle with higher seats. If you need more leg space to comfortably reach the pedals without having your knees up around your ears, don't go for a tiny supermini or a Renault Twizy - try something like the Skoda Superb or the Peugeot 3008.

Other cars known for their comfort levels include the Honda Civic, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 5 Series, and the Citroen C3.

You don't have to spend huge amounts to benefit, but generally speaking the newer the car, the better the adjustments you can make.

Following these tips, especially if you do more than 20 hours of driving every week, can help to prevent stress and pain caused by poor posture and bad driving habits. And if we can prevent any more stress and pain in 2022, we'd call that a success.

Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is our Content and Paid Media Specialist, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.