Properly holding the steering wheel of your vehicle is an important safety precaution to observe every time you get behind the wheel. When you complete your driving exam, the administrator will watch your body position while you are behind the wheel of the test vehicle. One aspect that the instructor will be looking for is proper placement of your hands on the steering wheel. Many drivers often wonder why the way that they hold or use the steering wheel of a vehicle is evaluated during the examination required to obtain a driver’s license. Drivers who use the correct technique to hold the steering wheel of their vehicle are less likely to have an accident and will be able to use their vehicle more efficiently. Statistics show that improper steering wheel techniques are the main cause of crashes when drivers run off the road. Even experienced drivers should be conscious of their posture, body position, and hand placement while driving.
After you seat yourself comfortably in your vehicle and adjust the headrest, seat, and mirrors to suit your height, you should also adjust the vehicle’s steering wheel. Most models allow drivers to move the steering column up or down by using a lever or handle located underneath the steering wheel. Some models also allow drivers to pull the wheel towards them or push it closer to the dashboard.
The top of the wheel should be lower than your shoulders, your arms are relaxed
Take a few moments to ensure that all of the vehicle’s available adjustments are customized so that you are in a comfortable position before you begin to drive. You should be able to clearly see both side mirrors and the rearview mirror, rotate from side to side to check your blind spots, and have an unobstructed view through the windshield. As of 2019, federal law now requires that all passenger cars contain rear-view backup cameras to help prevent unwanted accidents. Even with camera assisted backup, it’s still best to turn your body and look behind you and to both sides before going in reverse.
The technique for proper placement of your hands on the steering wheel has changed dramatically over the years but it is most often described in terms of how the placement of your hands relates to numbers on a clock. NHTSA now recommends the technique known as 9 and 3. Place your left hand on the left portion of the steering wheel in a location approximate to where the nine would be if the wheel was a clock. Your right hand should be placed on the right portion of the wheel where the three would be located. These recommendations are quite flexible, but keep in mind that 2 and 10 o’clock is no longer recommended because it can be dangerous in vehicles with smaller steering wheels and equipped with airbags.
The “9 o’clock and 3 o’clock” position is recommended by NHTSA
It’s best to check your owner’s manual to determine what is the best position for your vehicle. Many people feel that their arms are comfortably aligned with their shoulders in the nine and three position. This technique keeps your hands in the proper position to use the push and pull method of turning the steering wheel.
As you steer your vehicle, you should never take either of your hands off of the steering wheel. The push and pull method of turning the steering wheel allows you to safely rotate the steering wheel while keeping both hands in contact. For example, if you are turning to the right, you will push the steering wheel in a clockwise motion with your left hand while simultaneously pulling the wheel in a clockwise motion with your right hand. Some drivers simply push the wheel with the hand opposite of the direction in which they are turning while allowing the other side of the wheel to slide through the loose grasp of the other hand. It is not acceptable to turn your steering wheel with only the palm of one hand or with your thumbs. The push and pull method should be used for every turn, every time you drive.
Proper placement of your hands on the steering wheel is essential to driving your vehicle safely. Remember to place your hands in the nine and three position at all times while driving. Never drive with only one hand, your fingertips, or, even worse, with your knees. While turning to the left or right, use the push and pull technique to ensure that the steering wheel does not slip out of your hands. Not only will proper placement of your hands on your vehicle’s steering wheel help you pass your driving exam, it will also contribute to your overall safety while on the road.