The seats in trucks seem to be the most challenging part of the design when it comes to ergonomics. Without the ability to comfortably reach the pedals, controls and levers, it becomes an issue of safety for many people who are not easily accommodated while driving.
Adding to the safety considerations, seat comfort is crucial in supporting the driver’s back. A study by the Kentucky College of Nursing found that back pain is the second most cited health condition for professional drivers.
In addition to the seat itself, the seat belt and shoulder harness often make the miles behind the wheel uncomfortable. The three point belt system does not always allow women with cleavage be secured properly and many women will put the shoulder strap behind them to stop the chafing. For smaller women the shoulder strap rubs against the neck when a height adjustment is unavailable.
Because of the shorter leg length, the steps into the cab of the truck become an issue for some women. A study by Liberty Mutual found that forty percent of falls from highway vehicles occur when the victim is entering or exiting the cab of the truck, or the rear of the truck or trailer.
Accommodating these challenges are crucial in creating a safer environment for women. The trucking industry already has a reputation for being one of the more hazardous occupations. One out of every 13 drivers experiences a work related industry resulting in a lost time claim.
Women are not just small statured men, and the equipment needs for this segment of the driver population should not be ignored. In an effort to attract and retain women as professional drivers, we need to address these challenges and make the trucking industry more accommodating for women as well as men!