Steering a vehicle is a behavior that rarely demands a second thought, because as one of the first things a driver learns it becomes second nature. Drivers will often use hand-over-hand steering, which many driving instructors say is a bad habit.
Several experts say hand-over-hand steering isn't the safest steering method for two main reasons.
First, with hand-over-hand steering the driver’s arm crosses over the center of the steering wheel where the airbag is located. In the event that airbag deploys, it could cause serious injury to the driver's arm. Secondly, with hand-over-hand steering, the driver’s hands leave the steering wheel — that means less control.
Here are a few tips for mastering proper steering:
- Drivers should never take their hands off the steering wheel, even during turns. Keeping one’s hands on the wheel provides a driver with more control.
- Hands should be placed on the steering wheel in the 9 o’clock/3 o’clock position. Experts say this position provides equal balance for defensive driving maneuvers and making left and right turns.
- Thumbs should be placed along the side of the steering wheel—not over or wrapped around the steering wheel. Experts say that the thumb and index fingers provide the most energy and power, making it a lot easier to turn the wheel.
- Use the “push-pull” steering technique for making turns where one hand slides on the wheel as the other pulls down.
Driving instructor Andrew Wunderlich, owner and operator of Teen Road to Safety and a former LAPD officer who trained police recruits in defensive driving techniques, demonstrates proper steering in this video. To watch the video, click on the photo or link below the headline.