How To Hold A Steering Wheel

Picture: Tookapic via

Picture: Tookapic via

Let me ask you a question. How do you position your hands on your steering wheel when you drive?

Or have you reached a point where your driving has become so natural to you that you don’t even think about it anymore?

Not to worry, it’s quite normal. After we received our driver’s licenses, many of us probably stopped thinking about ‘the best’ way and instead adopted whatever way came naturally to us. With years spent driving a car, the vehicle almost feels as if its an extension of our bodies; our vehicle and us start to become one.

Why it matters

Let’s take a step back and just think about it for a second. Does the way we hold our steering wheels actually matter? What difference would it make even after all the time we have already spent driving?

Actually, it makes a huge difference! Remember: our cars are basically a heavy metal box moving forward at a high rate of speed, and the steering wheel is the main thing that controls where it goes. Our ability to control the steering wheel is not only important for ensuring a smooth drive, it’s also key in those split-second risky situations where our safety depends on our reflexes.

With this in mind, you might want to reconsider having only one hand on the steering wheel at the 12 o’clock position, or as many are guilty of doing, lazily resting your wrist on the wheel or ‘palming’, i.e. keeping just your palm on the steering wheel, to keep it in position.

While these ways of ‘holding’ the steering wheel might feel comfortable or might even make you look cool to your friends, they can be quite dangerous for two reasons: primarily, because it will be difficult for you to react appropriately in emergency situations and steer the car to where it needs to go. If there was to be a collision and the steering wheel’s airbag was to deploy, it could result in you getting hurt.

Airbag deployment in emergencies

An airbag deploys at an extremely high rate of speed and with great force because it’s meant to cushion your body in the event of a crash. However, you must bear in mind that if your arms and/or hands are in front of the steering wheel, this could mean that the deploying airbag will also launch your limbs towards your face and body at such a speed and with such force that you’ll get hurt in the process.

So what’s the best way?

This is debatable. Historically, the most common advice given is to place our hands at the ‘10 and 2’ positions, i.e. one hand at the 10 o’clock position and the other at 2. If you were to search online, you may find that this advice is considered by some to still be dangerous in regards to the airbag deployment risk mentioned above. Some websites might instead advise placing hands at the 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock positions instead, as it allows you to maintain control on the steering wheel while reducing the risk of injury in the event of a crash and airbag deployment.

Whatever the case may be, all of these recommended positions for holding the steering wheel have one thing that they all agree on: you should always have BOTH hands on the steering wheel to maximize your ability to maintain control over your vehicle’s movement, and to keep yourself as safe as possible in split-second dangerous situations.

If you’re going to try and adopt safer ways of holding your steering wheel, bear in mind that it might not be easy. Changing our driving habits takes time because some of these habits are so deeply ingrained in our minds after years of driving experience. Having said that, always remember one thing: right or wrong, our current driving habits were learned, and not they’re not things that we were born with. What this means is that your habits can be unlearned, and safer habits can be picked up with time and effort.