Why You Must Change this Commonly Held Driving Misconception

When most all of us were trained to drive, it was universally taught that the correct steering wheel hand positions were located at “10 o’clock and 2 o’clock”. This was the steering position that gave the driver the best leverage and maneuverability to control the vehicle in the days prior to power steering. This hand position was ingrained and many driving instructors teach this to this day. But these days, auto safety experts are telling us that the “10 and 2” steering position is incorrect and potentially very dangerous.

Why is the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock Hand Position Wrong?

The simple reason is the advent of the modern airbag located in the center of the steering wheel. In the event of an air bag deployment, hands in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position (or hands at the 12 o’clock position) can be driven into your face with tremendous force. Despite the lifesaving aspects of air bags, serious hand, arm and facial injuries can result from having your arms in the way when an airbag deploys.

According to auto safety experts (including the American Automobile Association), the new correct hand position is located at either “9 o’clock and 3 o’clock” or at “8 o’clock and 4 o’clock”. In these positions, your arms will more likely be directed to the sides in an air bag deployment, rather than straight back at your head. Most steering wheels have spokes at “9 and 3”, so you can safely rest your hands there and never have to hunt around for the proper steering position. With modern power steering, vehicle control is effortless when using these hand positions and you are less likely to be injured by your own arms in a crash. The images below show the right and wrong way to grip the steering wheel.

Wrong Steering Wheel Hand Positions

10 o'clock and 2 o'clock steering position

The 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock steering wheel position is now considered unsafe.

The 12 o'clock steering wheel position

The common 12 o’clock steering position is also dangerous.

New Correct Steering Wheel Hand Positions

The safer 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock steering position

The 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock steering wheel position is now deemed to be safer.

The 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock steering postion

Even the 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock steering wheel position is a safer option.