Folks, I posted this on a math group but nobody answered. I suspect
that the engineers, etc. on this NG
can take this one on..
I am in a discussion with one short (4'10") and one tall (6'2") driver
about range of vision. The short stuff is always
getting paint and dings on all 4 corners of her sedan because, she
complains, she can't see because of her height.
The tall driver argues this is hooey,; short is just not a careful
driver. Short argues that tall doesn't account for how much further
he can see than her.
I said I would try to find out whether there is a formula for
calculating how far a person of "x" height can see from the driver's
seat. Of course there are many variables: Whether the subject is
short-waisted or long-waisted. Length of neck. Height of car seat.
Height of pillow. Vision - good or needs correction. Etc.
Can one derive a formula?
It will vary drastically with the size of the car, position of the
seat etc., but it certainly is harder for shorter drivers. In case you
haven't realized this (it's not obvious from your post), it's not a
matter of the taller driver being able to see FARTHER, but being able
to see CLOSER to the sides of the car.
That doesn't necessarily mean that she isn't also careless...
The short person is careless and is using height as an excuse. You can sit
on a booster of some sort and learn to judge distance from their
perspective. Fact is, most cars are designed today, that it is difficult
for anyone to see the rear corners from the rear window or the mirror. Bt
that is no excuse to bash into something if you are too lazy to learn to
Other aids are available, such as parabolic mirrors, curb feelers, and
mounting corner guides. Take a look at a snow plow that had a flexible rod
standing up on the corner so the driver can tell where the end of the blade
is. Pedals can be extended if the driver is sitting on a raise seat. Too
lazy and too cheap are the problem, no height.
With very rounded profiles, a lot of cars might be difficult for a short
driver. I did a Google search for '"safe driving" "seat height" ' and
got some interesting hits.
Higgs, why don't you save yourself much grief and tell her you love here,
drop the subject and ignore future dings. :-)
PS. The car is an extension of your body, but with this extension you only
know where it ends by sight. Short doesn't have as good a view as tall.
PSS. My short is (4'7") and no dings here.
No idea about the vision formula.
My last two cars have had rear spoilers. That helps a bunch for
the rear vision. There are after market versions.
How about fake (decorative) antennas for the front end? I know
there are some that fasten with double sided tape. Maybe there are some
that use magnets instead.
Man can adapt, woman on the other hand...... Sorry, couldn't help it.
Hows about the little short guy driving an aircraft carrier or a 747.
If you know your vehicle and it's characteristics, why would you have
a problem? Tank driver comes to mind, no, not a Buick.
Of course altho it has to be mostly empirically calibrated to the
The closest one can see (w/o artificial aids) is the continuation of the
straight line between the height of the eyes and the highest obstruction
in the line of sight. Clearly the higher the sight point relative to
that the closer to the vehicle the sight point is.
I'm not going to try to do ASCII art; it's too painful but one can see
the essence by drawing two triangles where the base represents the
ground level, the height is the intersection of the location of the
viewing point and the dash or other obstruction say and the hypotenuse
is that line extended. Make a second hypotenuse going thru that point
and intersecting w/ the height of the other driver and extend that to
the base as well. The distance between those on the base is the
advantage of the taller viewpoint to the ground; the same ratio holds
for any other point only the distance is somewhat reduced as the object
It's only some trig to work out the actual formula altho simply using
the ratios for sample subjects would be the quicker.
There's no formula. It's common sense.A tall person can see more of the
road directly in front of the car's hood (bonnet).
A short person can probably not see the license plate (licence tag) of
the car in front of her at a stop.
And if he/she is really short, the steering wheel is in his/her field of
view, and the Sun not being blocked by the lowered sun visor. .
I would tend to agree with Hey Bub.....that would be my pragmatic side
my totally un-PC self thinks perhaps .........its NOT a height
thing. Maybe its a chromosome thing?
which reminds me of a really un-PC joke told to me YEARS ago....Why
couldn't Helen Keller drive very well?
As a practical matter...get "the short one" a booster seat?. Or mod
the seat frame?
My g/f 35 years ago drove a 65 Mustang. The driver's seat adjustment,
even when completely forward, she was shy of easily reaching the
pedals (she was 5' 3 1/2").
I made a seat track adapter that placed the seat 3" closer to the
wheel. I could still drive fine with the seat further back.
Actually at full rearward (with the old installation) I couldn't
reach the pedals either. So the 3" shift was fine for the 6'+ crowd
Good luck. I don't see any upside here.
Got another one for ya:
A foursome of engineers (what else?) was golfing when they came
up behind another foursome that was playing through veeeeeery slowly.
One of the engineers hunched up to the driver of the golf cart and
at him "Whatthehell...your guys are holding everybody up!" Driver
"Shhh!...they're blind!". "Aw shit", blurts the engineer, "Why can't
play at night!".
Uh, I don't want to get too far in the middle of this, but she says
uses a seat cushion. Started to look into modifying pedal, but
was afraid it might slip, or something...
Sounds good, if done VERY carefully.
However, one is supposed to sit at least 10" from the wheel for air
safety, which could be a problem for pregnant female, and
especially for small female, pregnant or not, if they have to
sit too close to the wheel.
Like I said, I'm staying out of it; my main interest was to derive a
and one of the respondents did post sort of a formula.
Also, there may be something in what a couple of respondents have said
(more or less snottily <g>) about the 4'10" needs to work on her
I'll try to find a way to mention the seat track adapter without
into it between them.
There are so many variables that you can't mess with, and others that
you shouldn't, that it makes any calculation nothing more than mental
exercise with no value whatsoever. The most important variable and
the only one that makes an appreciable difference, is the driver's
comfort and confidence level.
re: The tall driver argues this is hooey
Here's way to test the sight lines and prove to him that she is right,
but only in one regard:
- Take a bunch of sticks and paint the tips in bright colors but don't
tell the drivers what colors you used.
- With the driver seated behind the wheel, hold a stick at each corner
of the vehicle and raise it slowly until the driver can tell you what
color it is.
I'm sure you'll find that the taller driver can see the tip before the
shorter driver can, which proves it's harder for her to see the
corners of the vehicle.
That said, she is still at fault. Her height, while maybe an *excuse*
for all the dings on the car, does not relieve her of any
responsibilty for the damage. If she's too short to drive safely - or
just *can't* drive safely - then she shouldn't be driving.
Driver: "Your honor, it's not my fault that I hit that kid. I'm
Judge: "Well, that just means less material will be used to make your
)responsibilty for the damage. If she's too short to drive >safely - or
Agreed, but it's an easy fix. My 85 year old mother says she's 5' but she's
nowhere near that tall. Until the most recent vehicle, every car she's ever
owned had the front bench put up on blocks and pushed all the way forward.
Anyone else sitting in the front seat had to eat their knees and hunch down
to keep from smacking the ceiling. It worked just fine for her. She now has
a Toyota which has a seat which can be automatically moved up and forward
enough for her to be where she should be in the seat.
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