For years, driving instructors advised new drivers to grip the steering wheel at the 2 and 10 o’clock positions. But those are no longer the recommended hand positions. 

According to the California DMV, the two preferred options are now the 9 and 3 o’clock grip, or slightly lower at around 8 and 4 o’clock. These positions reduce the possibility of turning the wheel too sharply and also reduce the risk of hand injury during a crash. 

To help prevent forearm and hand injuries, your hands should be placed on the lower half of the steering wheel, with your knuckles on the outside of the wheel and your thumbs stretched along the rim of the steering wheel.

Pull-push steering is best for most turning maneuvers. Put your hands in the 8 and 4 o’clock positions. Pull down with one hand and push up with the other. This results in smooth steering and reduces the potential for over steering, which can lead to loss of control. Keep your hands and thumbs on the outside of the wheel.

Hand-over-hand steering works best when steering movements are critical, such as when:

  • Parking
  • Performing sharp right turns
  • Correcting a skid.

Use quick movements on entry to the maneuver, and then use slow, smooth movements when straightening the wheel.

One-hand steering is the best approach for:

  • Backing maneuvers that do not require full left or right turns, or
  • When operating vehicle controls for information, safety or comfort.

Check out this video from AAA to learn more about the preferred steering grips.