Road Safety Tips: Are you holding your steering wheel correctly?

The days of driving lessons and tests may be a distant memory, but there are probably some safety tips which have stuck with you. For instance, keeping headlights on during bad weather, maintaining a safe stopping distance, and your hand positioning on the steering wheel.

Holding a steering wheel with hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions, has been considered the safest positioning for years. This is due to the placement providing the most control for any sudden reactions required.

However if taking a driving course more recently, you may have been taught something different. Due to changes in the design of the air bag, an alternative position has been recommended by some experts.

Where’s best to hold the steering wheel…

The higher positioning of hands at 10 and 2 does mean better grip. However, this position also means arms are placed directly in the path of the air bag.

Should it go off, the air bag would inflate upwards and thrust your hands towards your face. This could potentially cause serious injury to a driver’s face or head.

An air bag’s release is triggered by a chemical reaction, which could also present as a hazard. In the case of a crash it is a release of nitrogen which deploys the air bag. Although this release works to cushion the driver’s head and upper body, the hot chemical may cause addition harm.

The easiest solution to these risks is said to be simply moving hands on the wheel to a lower position. Some experts have now recommended holding the wheel at a 9 and 3 o’clock position. This still provides sufficient leverage, yet keeps arms out of the way of the air bag.

Others say it may depend on the vehicle you’re driving. For example, some cars have side air bags. In this circumstance it may be better to hold your hands a little lower, closer to a 8 and 4 o’clock position.

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