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I am too short to drive safely... Any advice??? Seriously...

(35 Posts)
Paranoid1stTimer Mon 31-Aug-09 16:35:48

I am 5ft 1 and I can only reach the pedals if I have the seat right up at the steering wheel. I have to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel. It is ridiculous. My driving instructor said that is just how I will have to drive since I am a short arse.

Surely there is a safer way for a short person like me to drive without the fear of being killed or severely injured should the airbag deploy...

I have heard of pedal extenders but I share a car with DH and he does most of the driving so they would have to be really easy to get on and off.

Anyone got any advice? I am scared to drive anyway as I am a nervous wreck most of the time.


OP’s posts: |
Tortington Mon 31-Aug-09 16:38:04

just need to get a different car, i know its not what you want to hear - but i am a shortarse and i have driven many many cars

bigger shoes?

just not a problem in my considerable experience

cookielove Mon 31-Aug-09 16:40:01

my work colleague is 4ft 11 and she is still able to drive without the need for a pillow, she drives a citeron something rather, so there are cars out there for shorter people.

What car do u drive?

maize Mon 31-Aug-09 16:40:06

Thats unusual, loads of people are short and drive, my mum is 5ft1 and she drives a Polo and my dad's Mondeo which is a big car. I would agree that you need to try a different car. What are you learning in at the moment?

SausageRocket Mon 31-Aug-09 16:44:20

lots of women of shorter stature can drive !

2 of my best mates are 4'10 & 4'11 (yes really, I am 5'7 and our other mate in the foursome is 5'10, we look like a circus has come to town when we go out!), and both drive perfectly well without the aid of cushions and what not. One drives a teeny Ford KA and the other drives a Rover 45 and a Hyundai Accent.

I'd be changing driving instructor tbh, s/he sounds like a rude pig.

5'1" isn't that tiny.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 31-Aug-09 17:42:44

I'm the same height and I have driven the following cars for the last 17 years with no problems:

Mazda MX5
New Mini and old Mini
Mazda TS2
Citroen C1
Suzuki Capuccino
Ford Mondeo
Vauxhall Astra/Zafira
Renault Clio
LandRover Freelander
Alfa Spider

and a 7.5 ton truck when moving.

I put all these down as they are a whole range of cars and it is far more likely to be about confidence than anything else.

A tip is to make sure the seat is as 'up' in the air as it can be - most are adjustable (not low down) but that the back reclines a little further back (you don't want the back straight up as it forces you into the wheel).

StripeyKnickersSpottySocks Mon 31-Aug-09 17:46:49

I'm 5ft2" ad never had a problem or needed to use a pillow. I've driven all sorts of cars from small Micras to large BMWs and currently drive a Transporter van.

FromGirders Mon 31-Aug-09 17:50:27

I'm 5'0", and have never had to sit on a pillow. Have driven everything from a Berlingo, to an LDV transit, tractor and forklift. I suppose it could have more to do with the relative length of your legs?
Many cars have an option to lower the steering wheel. And turn off your airbag.

madwomanintheattic Mon 31-Aug-09 17:52:36

i'm 5'2" and have driven most things from a mini to a (currently) Chevy Suburban/ Yukon thing (like a tank only uglier).

I've also driven trucks and amphibious vehicles lol.

However, I did start out terrified.

Get a new instructor. Find a car that fits you properly, there are tons that you will cope with just fine.

(incidentally - dh is 6'2", and we have no need for anything as daft as pedal extenders, although he does whinge when I leave the seat forwards and he want to use the car next...)

Take a deep breath and ask all your mates if you can sit in their cars and play with the seats for a while.

CarGirl Mon 31-Aug-09 17:53:02

I'm 5' and have driven an espace, galaxy, micra, corolla, visa, seicento and a few more beides.......

sazm Mon 31-Aug-09 17:55:22

lol,try a different instructor lol,
and a different car lol

my oh is 5ft2 and im 5ft8 (daft we look lol)

lots of cars have a height adjustment on the seats, he likes them,
he has had to use a cushion before (about 10 yrs ago) but most cars nowadays have height adjusters,

eekamoose Mon 31-Aug-09 18:22:55

Simply don't understand how this can be.

I am 5ft2" and have driven Transit Vans, Luton Vans, large people carriers, an x-type Jag. I currently drive a Vauxhall Zafira daily. We need quite a large car because dh is 6ft4"!

5 ft 1" is not that short - is it?

Tambajam Mon 31-Aug-09 18:31:29

This has to be about leg length I'm guessing rather than overall height. My friend who is 4ft 11 drives a fiesta and is fairly close to the wheel but not THAT close and certainly no pillow. I would probably speak to someone about whether it's safer for you to have the airbag switched on or off if you are really up against it.

Wonderstuff Mon 31-Aug-09 18:31:35

I'm 5'2" and I have had to do the pillow thing in one of the cars I tried to learn in and my current instructors car is a challenge. I can't remember what car it is but in my dh's Citron Xsara I don't have a problem, I think one of those little hatchback cars is particularly bad for short arses.

bigTillyMint Mon 31-Aug-09 18:32:57

MIL is 4'10 and she has driven all the cars FIL has ever bought!

GoldenSnitch Mon 31-Aug-09 18:39:05

I'm 5'1" and currently drive a Polo and my DH's Skoda Octavia.

I've driven his old mondeo too. My Mum's 205, my old 206, DH's Octavia Estate and a van.

I have to have the seat pretty much as far forward as it will go but have never needed a cushion! Most cars these days will allow you to raise the seat anyway.

I did Ergonomics as part of my degree and know that I have a 49th percentile body and 15th percentile legs so I also know that my issue is short legs.

You should be far enough away from the steering wheel to have your arms out almost straight but not locked. Any closer and you risk straining something. Recline the seat if needs be.

I'd ditch the instructor and get someone less rude if I were you.

SweetEm Mon 31-Aug-09 18:41:59

I am 4'11'' and had no problems learning to drive in a huge volvo estate! I echo what someone else said about having a seat that goes up and down - you want it as high up as possible.

It does depend to some extent on the car - I had a Citroen C5 hire car once that did not have an up-down adjustable seat, so I did need cushions. It is mostly not a problem though!

Oh, and get a new driving instructor - preferably one that treats you with some respect.

bellavita Mon 31-Aug-09 18:46:57

I am 5ft nothing and drive a Seat Ibiza with no problems. Yes, my seat is pulled right up, but I certainly don't touch the steering wheel.

mmrsceptic Mon 31-Aug-09 18:49:41

I'm shorter than you and have driven all sorts.

Agree with sweetem on get a new driving instructor but not on the volvo estate, gosh I couldn't see the bonnet in that one smile

bloss Mon 31-Aug-09 18:58:37

Message withdrawn

BCNSback Mon 31-Aug-09 19:08:53

agree I'm 5'2" never had an issue and have driven 7.5 tonners, landrover defenders small buzzy hatchback and family cars.. but I do like up/down seats and even better are the up/down and tilty seat base ones .. but if you don't have these.. pull forward and recline the seat..

if you have a steering wheel adjuster.. do that too.

I wonder if your learning at the moment you feel you need to see the front of the car.. rather than just having good vision?

mellifluouscauliflower Mon 31-Aug-09 19:17:49

I am 5 1/2" with short legs and can some smaller cars are problematic. I learned to drive in a Ford Fiesta and I too had to have cushions (the shame of it..)

We have (whisper) a 4x4. If you can live with the social death it brings, it is ideal because of the high driving position and the fact it has adjustable seats and an adjustable steering wheel. It does feel safer to see clearly over the bonnet.

MaggieLeo Mon 31-Aug-09 19:23:24

I'm only a tiny bit taller, but I only have any problem when reversing round corners, which is a part of the test here. Always. (In Ireland). I have failed it twice for this reason. I just can't see what I'm doing. I got a major fault in that category both times, and the rest of my driving is good. I'm so p1ssed off.

I thought about sitting on my dc's booster seat for my next driving test. Sorry to hijack, but has anybody any idea if that's allowed.?

MaggieLeo Mon 31-Aug-09 19:26:19

Sorry, that was a negative depressing thing to say to you. Perhaps not being able to reverse around a corner is nothing to do with my height. Perhaps I just have a problem with spatial awareness.

throckenholt Mon 31-Aug-09 19:29:00

I am about that height and I never have a problem - I have driven lots of different cars - it is normally just a case of adjusting the seat. It is often better now in newer cars because seats often go up and down and well as forward and back.

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