This is the first lesson we learn when we start driving lessons. Getting your seating and mirrors in their optimum positions will help keep you safe and relaxed while driving.
How to tell if your cockpit is set up correctly for you.
Start with sliding the seat back/forward until you can push the clutch all the way to the floor with just a slight bend in your knee.
Next adjust the height of the seat until you have the best visibility out the windows. Generally speaking, the higher your seat the better you will be able to see. Make sure you have enough headroom for comfort and safety.
Now adjust the back of your seat for your personal comfort. If your car is fitted with a headrest, adjust it so that the top of the headrest is level with the top of your ears.
You should only adjust the mirrors AFTER you have finished adjusting your seat, otherwise you will probably have to readjust them when you move your seat.
Start with the main rear view mirror. Only touching the outer casing, and with your head resting on the headrest, adjust the mirror until you can see the whole of the back window. If this is not possible in your car, make sure you can at least see the top of the back window in the mirror. Often you will see a little of your headrest in the bottom left corner of the mirror – this is perfectly normal.
Now adjust the side mirrors so that you have a clear view of the road/pavement on each side. You should still be able to see just enough of your car so that the front door handles are still visible.
Finally, double-check that you can comfortably reach and operate all the controls in the car from your driving position. If you can’t comfortably reach all the controls, you may need to speak with your driving instructor about modifying your cockpit. E.g. it’s not uncommon for individuals below average height to need a cushion on the driver’s seat to gain a clear view out the windows.
As and when you get your own car, you may only have to do the cockpit drill on the rare occasion your seat or mirrors are moved. This could include times you clean the interior of your car or someone else has driven your car.
The first few times you do your cockpit drill will take a good few minutes, but as you gain experience you will be making the necessary adjustments quickly and without conscious effort.
The benefits of having your seating and mirrors set up correctly cannot be overstated. Among other benefits, having a consistent driving position will help you nail driving manoeuvres consistently.
More on that topic later…