Cab Seat Technology Addresses Driver Health Concerns
This story appears in the Aug. 8 print edition of Equipment & Maintenance Update, a supplement to Transport Topics.
Driving a truck for hours on end day after day takes its toll on the body, but the engineers of today’s cab seats are doing more than ever to address driver health and comfort concerns. These seats offer an array of features that soothe body aches and pains, reduce vibration and accommodate the range of body sizes.
For example, not only is standard lumbar support available with most seats, there also are optional features that double or triple the support. Seats that can provide heat are common, but some also have ways to help drivers cool down in the heat and draw away moisture.
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But among the main goals for seat and truck manufacturers is reducing vibration. Drivers experience excessive exposure to whole body vibration.
“A number of scientific studies have shown an association between exposure to vehicle-related whole body vibration and the development of health problems,” said Peter Johnson, professor in the Occupational and Environmental Exposure Sciences program in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Lower back pain is the most prominent example of the health problems that can occur, Johnson said. He is recognized as an expert on whole body vibration.
“Around 60 years ago, the only protection from whole body vibration was the foam padding used in the seat cushion,” Johnson said. “It was typical for the seat to adjust only in height, and there was no shock-absorbing capability in the seat suspension.”
This changed in the 1960s. “Mechanical suspension seats were introduced followed by air-suspension seats in the late 1970s,” he said. “Both of these seat suspension advancements were thought to incrementally reduce a vehicle operator’s exposure to whole body vibration.”
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|By Bruce Lilly|
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