The majority of drivers are still driving in the same way that their driving instructor taught them. Unfortunately, this is inevitably the wrong way. For a very long time, the most common lesson given to new drivers was that your hands need to be placed in the 10 O’clock and 2 O’clock position on the wheel, as if the steering wheel were a clock. If you’re still using that method, then you’re exposing yourself to some risks that your driving instructor didn’t envisage. In fact, driving with hands on the steering wheel at ‘ten and two’ is downright dangerous, and exposes you to some serious injuries should the worst happen. This is largely down to safety improvements, and airbags, in particular, are a big factor. That’s why state transportation agencies and the AAA now recommend using the 9 and 3 O’clock position on your wheel.
The Correct Clock
While most driving organizations recommend the 9 and 3 O’clock positions now, others have suggested that the 8 and 4 O’clock positions are safer. Doing the 8 and 4 does reduce the risk of more serious airbag-related injuries in the case of collision, but it has been suggested that this does actually give a little less overall control of your vehicle. Stick to the 9 and 3 option and your vehicle handling will be noticeably better. Distance is vital. The further apart your hands are when you hold your steering wheel, the more precise you will be and the more control you will have of your vehicle. That’s why the 3 and 9 position is the ideal hand position on steering wheel designs of every kind.
Dangerously Common Habits
Drivers can pick up bad driving habits very quickly, and once you start driving in a certain way it can be very difficult to shake free of those habits. Consider how many times you have seen someone driving using just one hand. Whether you’re using your spare hand to check your phone or for playing with your sound system, driving one-handed is one of the most dangerous ways to drive. You lose control of your vehicle the second that you don’t have two hands on the wheel, and it can only take a second for an accident to happen. While most cars in the US are automatics, those with stick-shifts often prefer to drive with one hand on the stick. They think that this makes them safer and more responsive, but the fact is that you should have both hands on the steering wheel at all times, and only take your gear changing hand off the wheel when you actually need to change gears.
Holding the Inner Wheel
It might not be quite as common as those drivers with one hand on the wheel, but a surprising number of drivers still hold their steering wheel in the central hub. Some even do this using just one finger! It’s easy to see why this habit can develop. It’s a remarkably lazy way to drive, and it’s surprisingly comfortable. Of course, driving in this way is highly dangerous and gives you almost no control over your vehicle, especially in emergency situations. If you drive using the central hub then you need to rid yourself of this dangerous habit immediately, because the results will inevitably be bad.
Twelve O’clock Steering
This is a very common issue, but driving with both hands at the top of your steering wheel is no safer than driving with one hand. That’s because if you need to react quickly, then you will overreact because both hands will be doing the same thing. You lose a massive amount of precision by driving with both hands together, largely because you are losing some of your internal resistance. Not only that, but should you collide with something and your airbags deploy then your hands and arms are going to be forced directly into your face at high speeds. That will inevitably cause serious injuries that can be easily avoided by keeping your hands further apart.
Don’t assume that your driving lessons are going to mean that you know the right way to drive. Technology has changed the way that cars are designed, and no matter how long you’ve been driving in the same way, your car will respond more and be safer to drive if you rid yourself of those bad driving habits. You might have to relearn how to hold steering wheel types, but doing so will keep you much safer on the roads.