Van drivers – keep your eye on the RDI

For years, ever since health and safety really began to gather momentum in the UK and more recently with increasing numbers of jobs calling for more time behind a PC screen, we have been aware of RSI, or repetitive strain injury. Simply put, the action of performing the same motion over and over puts pressure on joints that haven’t evolved enough yet to cope with this type of punishment.

Now we have a similar condition recently diagnosed for drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel, quite obviously affecting commercial drivers, such as field agents, van drivers and long distance truck drivers. Rather than to do with the wrists, as is the case with the majority of RSI injuries, RDI is more concerned with a condition potentially a lot more health-damaging: back posture.

This is no flight of fancy, stirred up by drivers who feel like they’re missing out on a personal injury claim if there’s one to be had. Medical evidence – and this is quite staggering, considering how long we’ve been driving as a people – suggests that nearly half of all drivers could be jeopardising their long term health because of the way they sit for prolonged periods behind the wheel – we’ve not seen that, yet, covered on any cheap van insurance policy!

Even more startling figures were published in the recent report, instigated by eBay Motors, of all people. As part of their research into what aspects made a driver purchase a car, only 21% confirmed that comfort whilst driving was a consideration, despite medical evidence recently released that suggests posture, in relation to your life outside of your vehicle, is something we should be taking a lot more seriously.

Here’s an at a glance resume of symptoms and causes of what the research found:
• More than one in four drivers haven’t the foggiest idea how to adjust their seat so that it promotes a healthy position whilst behind the wheel
• Four in every five drivers suffer from foot cramp, putting that the highest single problem
• Almost 75% of drivers indicated that, within a quarter of an hour of driving, they had felt stiff necks, pain in the lumbar region of the back, eyestrain or headache and pains along their midriff – nearly 2,000,000 drivers report one, some or all of these conditions

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Peoples weight, height and shape are different, driving styles cover a broad spectrum of methods and car and their seats come in all sorts of configurations. In summary, when testing a new car or van, get in and feel the position you’ll be in behind the wheel and test its fitness for you, not just the purpose of your job.

You can put a price on your car or van insurance, but you cannot judge your health in the same way. Saving a few pounds here and there for a cheaper motor may cost you a lot more in the long term.

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