Holding the steering wheel correctly not only gives us a better sense of what is happening with the car and greater control over the car, but also allows us to react faster in the event of an emergency. In addition, it is also an important safety issue in the event of an accident. We explain why.
The wrong way to keep your hands on the steering wheel is one of the most popular bad habits among drivers not only in Poland but also around the world. Usually, the reasons for developing bad habits in this matter are matters of comfort and overconfidence. This is one of the reasons why many drivers hold the steering wheel with only one hand – either up or down – or only with their fingers, believing that in the event of an emergency they will be able to react and get out of trouble. However, life shows that such a dismissive approach often results in hiccups – if we slip or have to suddenly avoid an obstacle, our hands cannot keep up and we are unable to save ourselves from trouble.
The same will happen if you hold the steering wheel from the inside or turn it with one open hand – as if you were washing windows or polishing the body of your car in a circular motion. This way, it is easy to lose control of the car when your hand slips.
Here are the habits drivers should avoid:
- holding the steering wheel with one hand,
- incorrect positioning of hands, e.g. on top of the steering wheel,
- gripping the steering wheel from the inside,
- bending the thumbs towards the inside of the steering wheel,
- shaking with an open hand.
Therefore, holding the steering wheel correctly is extremely important. How to properly keep your hands on the steering wheel? The simplest method is to look at the steering wheel like a clock face. The correct technique for keeping your hands on the steering wheel is to place them in the “quarter to three” or “ten to ten” position, i.e. the numbers 3 and 9 or 2 and 10. Thanks to this, we have full control and feeling over the car, and we can react quickly. Above all, it is important to keep both hands on the steering wheel and take one of them off only when we need to change gear or, for example, open the car window.
We should not hold the steering wheel too tightly – rather freely and loosely, without tightening our hands on the wheel. This causes fatigue much faster and reduces the feel of the car. In addition, if we hold the steering wheel tightly, the smoothness of driving and the free shifting of hands during sharp turns or U-turns are impaired. We should also remember not to wrap our thumbs around the steering wheel. The main reason here is safety.
Remembering to keep your hands on the steering wheel in the manner specified above is justified in terms of safety, because in the event of an accident and airbag deployment, the airbag will fulfill its task – it will absorb the impact of the head and torso flying towards the steering wheel. If we keep one hand on the “top of the steering wheel”, the pyrotechnic charge of the airbag will shoot it towards our face. At best it means a broken arm and nose, at worst it can end tragically. It is similar with holding the steering wheel with thumbs or other fingers from the inside of the wheel – activating the airbag may damage our fingers and hands.
Turning the steering wheel should involve shifting your hands, as if you were turning the rudder of a pirate ship. We should not cross our arms, and when we need to turn the steering wheel more strongly, we should not move our hands – this method is simply too slow and causes the steering wheel to jerk. This is not a smooth way to drive a car. It is best for the steering wheel and the driver’s seat to be set at such a distance and at such an angle that the arms are slightly bent at the elbows and the hands lie on the steering wheel naturally, without any unusual bending that may cause discomfort and quicker fatigue.
Rally drivers sit very close to the steering wheel, because the speed of reaction is more important than precision (when skidding, they often have to counteract the wheels to keep the car on the track). Slightly bent arms are the best compromise between precision, response time and driving comfort