Where Should Your Hands Be On The Steering Wheel?

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While you are in the driver’s seat and you’re responsible for controlling the vehicle, proper hand position on the steering wheel is not something you can overlook.

That’s because the majority of road crashes involve error steering techniques. So, where should your hands be on the steering wheel then?

The ideal hand position on the steering wheel while driving is the 9 and 3 position, opposite side of the steering wheel halfway half. The position provides good control over the wheel, reducing the risk of injury from the airbag during a crash. 

Hand positioning tips and techniques are crucial to know as a cautious driver. Today’s write-up is comprehensive about the matter. Read on to ensure road safety.

Types of Methods You Can Use to Hold The Steering Wheel

Typically, according to NHTSA, three types of methods are there that you can use to hold the steering wheel while driving. These are the methods that can provide a smooth and continuous steering wheel if performed properly.

So, let’s first get to know the methods. 

1. Hand To Hand Steering

The method is commonly called pull/ push steering. Hand to hand steering method is the preferred method for the steering. 

As in this method, the hands never cross over the wheel, it reduces the chance of injuries to arms, face, and hands. In this method- 

  • The left hand grasps the steering wheel between 7 and 8 o’clock whereas the right hand is on the 4 and 5 o’clock. Depending on your turning direction, one hand pushes the steering up and the other one slides up, grasps the wheel, and pulls the steering down to turn. 
  • The hand that is pulling moves down, and the other pushing-up hand initially slides back to its original position. Thus it makes adjustments as required. 
  • Whatever the direction you are turning, keep the left hand on the steering wheel between 11 and 8 o’clock and the right hand on between 1 and 8 o’clock. 

2. Hand Over Hand Steering

The method is essentially useful when you have to turn the vehicle at low speed like in intersections with less visibility or while parking. Here-

  1. The left hand is kept on the steering wheel between 8 and 9 o’clock and the right hand between 3 and 4 o’clock. 
  2. Depending on the direction the driver wants to turn the vehicle, the left top third is used more to turn the steering wheel left, and the right top third is used more to move the steering to the right. 
  3. Either one of the hands grasps the steering wheel and pushes up, whereas the opposite hand lets go grasp the wheel reaching across the other arm and pulling the wheels up, down, or over as required.

3. One Hand Steering

Generally, in this method, one hand is kept on the steering wheel whereas the other hand is kept on the vehicle that requires a reach from the steering wheel like lights, flashers, wipers, etc. Here hand placement on the steering wheel is crucial to have safe driving. 

  • The driver needs to keep one hand in the normal steering wheel operating position between 3-4 o’clock or 8-9 o’clock when they need to reach for a vehicle’s operating control. The position of the hand depends on the design of the steering wheel. 
  • The driver is required to use the 12 o’clock position when they needs to back the car right or left or when he needs to turn in the seats to see the travel path to the rear.

Where Should Your Hands Be On The Steering Wheel?

Steering is one of the most important and fun things while driving as it puts you in control of the car. But the new driver becomes somehow puzzled about what will be the ideal hand position on the steering wheel. 

It’s practically a gospel!

At a time 10 and 2 hand position is recommended as an ideal one. But over the past few years, proper steering wheel hand placement technique has changed dramatically. 

As car technology, safety equipment, and car safety testing have improved, the NHTSA recommended that you should keep your hand on the steering wheel in 9 and 3 positions. 

Here you need to put your hands in the approximately where 9 and 3 would be if the wheel were a clock. Moreover, the steering wheel techniques have also changed.

Now NHTSA recommends practicing hand to hand or push/ pull steering techniques to ensure safe driving on the road. 

Why Choose ‘9 and 3’ Steering Wheel Hand Position?

Now that you know 9 and 3 is the recommended hand position, you may be wondering why that is so, right? Actually, behind the recommendation, there are some thoughtful benefits. Let’s get to know them. 

#1. Optimum Safety

The first thing that needs consideration while driving is safety. And here the 9 and 3 position has proved to be safer, especially during the car crash when the airbags get deployed. 

You know during a crash, the airbags deploy 200 miles per hour. The steering wheel positioning 9 and 3 will prevent the driver’s arm from being amputated in the accident. 

#2. Ergonomics

Undoubtedly, driving is just not the same thing as just sitting on a chair. While driving, the hands are generally higher which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome in some drivers, manifesting as a numbing or tingling sensation on the arms. 

But the 9 and 3 positions ensure comfortable driving along with safety. The drivers don’t need to put their hands higher in this position. Moreover, the position is less tiring, preventing sore shoulders and stiff necks of the driver. 

#3. Maximum Steering Control

When you keep your hands on the 9 and 3 positions on the steering wheel while driving, it provides you with uninterrupted and smooth steering wheel control.

In this technique, the hands of the drivers are 180 degrees from each other. It allows the driver to maneuver the steering wheel with more ease during turns

Moreover, the 9 and 3 steering wheel hand positions are also well kept in the push/ pull steering method which is also a recommended steering wheel holding method getting the seal of NHTSA approval. 

How To Hold Your Steering Wheel Properly?

However, just knowing the best hand position on the steering wheel is not enough until you learn how to hold it properly. That’s why, whenever you are off driving, ensure you look into the below three things. 

Step 1: Adjust Your Steering Wheel And Column

Before starting driving, adjust the steering wheel and the column of your car along with the mirror, seat, or headrest. Some cars allow the steering wheel closer or further whereas the steering column is up and down. 

Step 2: Drive Your Car At ‘9 and 3’ Position

Put your hand on the steering wheel in the 9 and 3 position. Think of your steering wheel as a clock and place the hand where the 9 and 3 would be in the clock. 

Step 3: Follow Hand To Hand Technique During Turns

While you are having a turn on the road, prefer hand to hand technique. It allows you to turn your car safely and keep both hands in contact every time you turn.

Steering Wheel Hand Positioning Tips to Keep You Safe

Well, you, expectedly, get enough to understand the steering wheel position while driving. 

However, according to NHTSA, here are some additional hand positioning tips on the steering wheel that can assist you in safe and comfortable driving. 

  1. You should grasp the steering wheel firmly but gently.
  2. Never ‘death grip’ the steering wheel. 
  3. You should hold the steering wheel with your fingers, not with your palms. Keep the thumbs facing along the steering wheel. 
  4. You should never turn the steering wheel while you are gripping the wheel from inside of its rim. That’s because if the steering wheel suddenly reverses back during an accident, you may end up breaking your wrist.


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