By Chantal Ballantyne, Published September 2013 in SNAP Barrie Newspaper |
When it comes to holding the steering wheel, every driver has their preference. We may shift around a bit as we drive, but we all have a default hand position, one that feels the most comfortable. Unfortunately, comfortable isn’t always safe.
When we do evaluations on the simulator, drivers typically begin with hands at 10 and 2, but out of habit they eventually revert back to their default hand position, often one hand on the wheel. However, in emergency situations all drivers will use both hands to avoid a problem. It isn’t a conscious response, it is instinctual. Drivers need two hands to steer to the best of their ability. If one hand has to get to the steering wheel, the response will be slower and less controlled. This is not always detrimental, but what if you are steering to avoid a child in the street?
Another important factor in steering is how you place your hands. Best practice is to have your thumbs up on the wheel, not hooked in. There are five main reasons for this: 1) it is easy to do quick emergency steering and there is less chance you will understeer or get caught in the wheel; 2) you have better balance on the steering wheel while driving; 3) if the air bags deploy, your thumbs are safe; 4) it allows for easy hand-over-hand steering during turns, giving you more control and reducing the risk of slipping or letting go of the wheel; and 5) you are more likely to signal because your left hand is already in position to do it. With two hands on the wheel and your thumbs out, there is only one thing left to decide: 10 and 2, or 9 and 3?
While arguments can be made for both, each instructor has their preference and although many in the industry suggest 9 and 3 (in case air bags deploy), I think the more important question is: are you using either one? The debate is between those two options because they provide drivers with the safest and most effective steering ability. I won’t endorse one specifically, but I will say you should be using one or the other. Like with any good driving habit, it might not come naturally at first, but with some practice it will become your default.
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