SAN DIEGO — It’s something that drivers may not give much thought, but it could be the difference between escaping a crash unscathed and getting seriously hurt.
FOX 5 asked California Highway Patrol: How important is where you place your hands on a steering wheel?
“There’s no law that specifically regulates where you put your hands. However, we need to remember it’s more important than ever now because that airbag comes out over 200 MPH,” Sgt. Brian Pennings said.
Hand position on a steering wheel is often referred to in terms of hands on a clock. You’ve likely heard “10 and 2,” short for 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. It means one hand on each side of the wheel, each slightly higher than halfway up.
Drivers can place their hands at 10 and 2, 9 and 3 or 8 and 4, Penning says, as long as they are using both hands and their hands are placed symmetrically.
There is one position that is not recommended: 12, or a hand on the top middle of the wheel.
“You don’t want to give yourself a knuckle sandwich when that airbag comes out,” Pennings said, adding that he has seen “people give themselves injuries based on their hand placement when the airbag deploys.”
Your hand could also be obstructing your view through the front windshield.
If you’re driving a manual transmission vehicle, you can place your left hand at 8 o’clock, as that’s the lowest position, and put your right hand in the 4 o’clock position when you’re done shifting. That way, your hands are symmetrically placed while being closest to the gear stick.
“It just naturally goes there, so that’s the recommendation,” Pennings said.
Pennings adds that you can even learn a thing or two watching professional drivers, whose hands are always at 10 and 2.