Heels & Horsepower Magazine


Get a grip and keep BOTH hands on the steering wheel

Because steering looks so simple many drivers become blasé about it’s importance, yet many fatal head-on collisions can be attributed to the driver’s inability to steer safely.  Vuyi Mpofu shares a few tips on how to stay safe behind the wheel.

Steering a vehicle quite literally lies in the hands of the driver. The position of your hands on the steering wheel is of the utmost importance for safe driving and is especially critical when the driver has to respond to an emergency situation.  You just never know when an emergency may arise and if your hands are not properly positioned on the wheel it could spell disaster.  

For example, say you are driving down the road and a child runs out in front of you.  Your immediate reaction would most likely be to swerve in order to avoid hitting the child.  Now, should you be ‘steering; the wheel with your knees or casually have just one hand lightly holding the wheel, it will be impossible for you to execute a safe and timeous avoidance manourver because by the time your mind registers the danger and you place both hands onto the wheel, you could already have run over the child or swerved so harshly that you lose control of the car.

In South Africa where 30-40% of road fatalities are pedestrian deaths, it is vital to be drive with a sense of preparedeness at all times. Accidents can happen in milliseconds and it is your duty as a responsible motorist to be prepared for any eventuality.

Here are a few more tips to help keep you steer safely:

  1. Always keep your eyes on the road, and hands-on the wheel.
  2. Do not drive distracted
  3. Hold the wheel with both hands so that you have as much control of the vehicle as possible. This also allows you to be ready to negotiate split-second emergencies. 
  4. Keep your grip firm bur do not clench it too tensely. Keeping a death grip on the steering wheel will lead to prematurely tired arms and stiff hands leading to delayed responsive action in the event of an emergency. 
  5. When turn or cornering, avoid crossing your arms over one another.
  6. Hold the steering wheel at the 10-and-2 o’clock position or the 9-and-3 o’clock position. Picture the steering wheel as an analogue clock face with 12 o’clock as the apex of the wheel. With your left hand, hold the wheel at either the 9 or 10 o’clock position and hold the other side of the steering wheel at either the 3 or 2 o’clock position with your right hand.
    • 10-and-2 is better suited for older cars or any others with larger steering wheels and no power steering.
    • 9-and-3 has become the new norm for modern cars equipped with power steering, smaller steering wheels, and airbags.
  7. Mind your thumbs. While driving on paved roads, hold the wheel with your thumbs hooked around the steering wheel. If you turn off-road, them along the steering wheel’s rim, as if you were giving two thumbs-up.
    • Hooking your thumbs under the rim while driving off-road could set you up for injury. Your tyres could strike obstacles hard enough to jolt the steering wheel in your hand. 
    • If you are driving on a paved road with your hands at 9-and-3, nestle your thumbs along the wheel’s spokes where they meet the rim.

If you suspect that your vehicle is not steering 100% the manner it should, consult an expert as soon as possible.

Share this article: