Many of us have been told to sit up straight by a parent at the dinner table or by a teacher in school — but has anyone ever commented on your driving posture?

Most drivers have never thought twice about their ergonomics while behind the wheel. Yet, maintaining poor driving posture could lead to life-long issues.

The risks of poor driving posture

Studies have shown that poor driving posture can contribute to neck and low back pain. The chances of this may be even higher than sitting in a chair at a desk because car rides tend to be bumpy — placing more pressure on the spine. The long-term effects of commuting about an hour total each day for years could leave you with a curved spine, chronic pain and a lack of balance.

Worse, some experts suggest that poor posture may even increase the severity of injury a person could get if they are involved in an accident.

How to maintain proper posture

To attain proper driving posture, a driver should sit all the way to the back of the seat. The tilt of the seat should be adjusted so that your knees are even or lower than your hips.

Your line-of-sight when you look ahead should be above the steering wheel by at least three inches. When checking this, also make sure the back of your seat is adjusted correctly. You should be only slightly leaned back, at almost a 90-degree angle.

If you have to reach out to press either of the pedals, you are too far away. On the other hand, being too close to the steering wheel can result in an injury that’s more severe in an accident. Look for a happy medium where your foot can easily press the pedal.

Why driving posture is different

Driving posture is different than the posture you should have while seated because of the demands of driving. For example, while sitting, it’s best to keep your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, with feet flat on the floor. However, while driving, your legs will need to extend forward to reach the gas and brake pedals.

What to do after an accident

If you or one of your passengers is not seated properly during a collision, a spinal cord injury could easily result. Injuries to a spinal cord can have odd symptoms, such as numbness, sweating or fainting.

Seeking medical attention and contacting an experienced attorney after a crash can help ensure that symptoms such as these are noted and compensated for.