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Driving with Hands at 10 and 2 is Outdated and Dangerous

Written by Tom Crosley
Catastrophic Personal Injury

Chances are good that you received your driver’s license before 2012. If you happen to be a by-the-book driver and follow all the rules your driving instructor taught you those many years ago, you’re probably doing it wrong. At least, you’re probably holding the steering wheel wrong.

Remember the 10 and 2 positioning technique?

According to AAA, positioning your hands at 10 and 2 is no longer the best way to grip the steering wheel. In fact, it can be downright dangerous.

Holding the wheel at 10 and 2 is a remnant from an era before power steering became standard on all vehicles, when turning required more force to get your wheel to move. The 10 and 2 position allowed you to pull down on the wheel when making a turn, which was the easiest way to do it. Now, unless you’ve forgotten to change your power steering fluid on a regular basis, your wheel should be easy to turn, rendering the force that the 10 and 2 position generates unnecessary.

Not only is the 10 and 2 position unnecessary; it can also be dangerous due to the placement of wheel-mounted airbags. If your hands are at the top of the wheel and an airbag deploys, there’s a good chance that your hands will be propelled backward and into your face at high velocity, which could cause severe injury. If your hands are placed at the side or bottom of the wheel in the event of airbag deployment, they will be sent sideways and lessen the chance for additional bodily injury.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that improper placement of hands on the wheel when an airbag deploys has caused injuries such as amputation of fingers and “degloving” – an injury where an extensive section of skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, like removing a glove. Not a pretty picture.

Therefore, AAA suggests using the 9 and 3 (also known as the “parallel position”) or 8 and 4 positions, as these techniques still allow you to maintain control over your vehicle while increasing safety and reducing driver fatigue. The guidelines for new drivers highlight how the parallel position “improves stability by lowering the body’s center of gravity and reduces unintended and excessive steering wheel movement, which is a primary cause of young driver fatalities.”

Want a refresher on correct steering wheel positioning? Check out this short video by AAA and remember to stay safe on our roads.


Bottom Line. (2012, March 22). Get with the times: You’re driving all wrong. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/get-times-youre-driving-all-wrong-518710 

Davies, A. (2013, January 22). Holding the hands at 10 and 2 is dangerously outdated. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/holding-the-steering-wheel-at-10-and-2-is-dangerously-outdated-2013-1 

Texas Education Agency, Driver Training Division, Texas Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division. Behind the wheel instruction guide. MSNBC News. Retrieved from https://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/120321_TexasDriversGuide.pdf

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