Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects


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118 Responses to “Holding the steering wheel at 10 and 2 o'clock is no longer recommended”

  1. When you’re rocking a big gold ring like that friendly fellow, the last thing you want is your hand blown back into your face. 

    • ocker3 says:

      Video says ‘if the airbag deploys, it is more likely that the driver’s forearm will be blown into their face’, my EMT buddy says ” Preventing your arms from being rammed through your eye sockets by the airbag”

      So I think he’s seen that once or twice.

      I’ve been driving with my hands down low for years, I just need to make driving with Both hands a more serious habit

      • chgoliz says:

        That was a new explanation to me.  That hands at 10 & 2 would get blown out of the way by the airbag, sure, but the mental image of one’s hands being blown *into one’s face* is a much better warning….the sort of thing one’s teenage children are more likely to remember.

        • duncancreamer says:

          The problem comes in a turn and that is where most airbag releasing accidents happen. With your hands at10/2, your more likely to have an arm in front of the airbag when pulling the wheel around and then this pushes your arm or hand straight back, often breaking your nose.

          • chgoliz says:

            Oooohhhh….heavens, you are right!  My preferred position is 6:30, followed by 9, followed by 9 & 3, but I learned to drive in the prehistoric years with large steering wheels and no power assist, so when I turn, I still instinctively cross over the top.  Thank you. I will pay more attention from now on and break myself of that habit.

      • Quiche de Resistance says:

        As a major pothead (in a former life), I used to drive with my knee at 7.  I’ve since made driving with at least one hand a serious habit.

      • s2redux says:

        Wait for the story he tells when he encounters a pipe-smoker whose airbag deployed…

  2. Fantome_NR says:

    I hold the wheel at 630 with my left hand, and keep my right hand on my lap ready to change gears, because I drive stick.

    • DooMMasteR says:

      even when driving stick… 9 and 3 is always and has always been the best way to hold the wheel
      I do not know where the 10 and 2 shit is from but I have NEVER seen any serious driver handling a wheel in any other way
      and even when driving stick 2 hands on the wheel are very important, because the unexpected happening is mostly something bad happening

      • dragonfrog says:

        10 and 2 is certainly what they told us in driver’s ed, twentyish years ago.

        • LinkMan says:

           My grandfather told me 10 and 4 when he first taught me to drive.  My driver’s ed instructor said 9 and 3, though.

        •  10 & 2 is what drivers ed taught over 40 years ago, but DoomMasteR is right, 3 & 9 is what racing drivers have used for much longer.

          • Jesus says:

            10 and 2 was being taught 20 years ago.  I know, because I was there.

          • duncancreamer says:

            I’m 40, but I was taught 9/3 when I was 15. They made a point of explains this was a change and that our folks and older friends might try to tell us it was wrong.

          • Jonathan Roberts says:

            Racing drivers rarely drive under 150 mph and get into fairly regular crashes. They also overtake on both sides.

          • Ken.C says:

            Rarely under 150? You don’t watch a lot of racing, do you? I think the key here is that race cars do not have airbags, and the drivers wear safety equipment and 5 point harnesses. The cars are also designed to be incredibly safe-far more than a road driver would tolerate. 

          • SamSam says:

            10 and 2 was certainly being taught less than 5 years ago.

        • Paul Renault says:

           My drivers’ ed instructor, about thirty years ago, explained that the real position was 9 and 3, but they started the students at 10 and 2 – knowing that their hands would slide down to 9 and 3 after a while.

      • Fantome_NR says:

        ok concernyperson.

      • robuluz says:

        Well yeah, 9 and 3 is how you and me drive, but that’s because we’re trying to maintain precise control while going as fast as we possibly can.

        I don’t think that’s generally recommended.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I’d accuse you of being a communist and a girly man, but I’m both of those and I drive just like that.

        • GregS says:

          I drive with my hands at 9 and 3, but that’s because my car is so ancient that it doesn’t have airbags, so I’m not worried about having my thumbs broken or my finger thrust into my eyesocket by the airbag in case of an accident. My policy, instead, is to try to drive carefully to avoid accidents.

  3. Jake0748 says:

    Interesting about the air-bag thing.  I usually hold the wheel at 1:17 and 7:32. 

  4. If my right foot is at the bottom of the wheel where should my left foot be?

  5. PhosPhorious says:

    I usually steer with my knees while surfing the web on my smartphone.

    • That’s oldschool.  Get on the Siri bandwagon and get a windscreen mount for your phone.  Then your hands are free to hold a bowl of cereal (or stir-fried rice, but it’s a tiny bit tricky to eat while driving) while you drive with your knees.  Bonus points if you’ve got a car with the microwave/laser-adjusted cruise control.

    • Just_Ok says:

      Idiot, you’re not supposed to use a phone when driving a car. Get a laptop.

  6. Guest says:

    I am tall and drive a small car, so if I puts my hands in that position my legs and belly gets in the ways of my arms movements.

  7. B E Pratt says:

    It looks as though one of those steering wheels was designed with 10/4 in mind, considering the position of the buttons. One was obviously designed for 9/3.

    • DooMMasteR says:

      and think for steering wheel shift paddles…
      all made for 9/3
      there are even wheels who do not allow any other fixed position, though they are not usually applied on street/road cars

  8. welcomeabored says:

    And I guess they also changed their minds about not wrapping one’s thumbs around the steering wheel, hmmm?  The airbag will hold the torso and head in place.  You still stand a peachy chance of breaking both thumbs.

  9. Peter Hollo says:

     10 & 2 o’clock considered harmful.

  10. MollyMaguire says:

    Still a fan of my Brodie knob.

  11. brandonmwest says:

    9 and 3 gives you the most range to turn in either direction. High performance driving instructors will teach you to adjust where your hands are ahead of time so that you are at 9 and 3 once you are in the turn, so that you have the most control possible.

  12. I drive with my right thumb at 5 o clock and turn with the heel of my palm.  Left hand on the arm rest.

  13. My Driver’s Ed was in 1993; even then, the handbook said that 10 and 2 was no longer recommended.

    • James Kimbell says:

       I’d imagine there are plenty of classes where neither the students nor the teachers read the handbook.

      •  The coach that “taught” our class didn’t even make us come to class if we already had our license.  The driving age here then was 15, 14 1/2 with a work permit; and driver’s ed was a second semester freshman+ class. Go figure…

  14. bcsizemo says:

    People drive with both hands?  From what I see on the road people can’t be bothered to get off their phone long enough to drive.  I don’t care if you are using one hand or a knee, just mash that far right pedal down and lets GO.

  15. Churba S says:

    Interesting. Though, I’m still going to keep driving at ten and two. Not because of anything silly like “oh, but it’s how I learned” or “It’s just a habit”, but because I drive a raggedy-ass old 1990 Nissan Vanette, with no power steering(and heavy steering to boot), and no airbags. It’s also got a throttle stiffer than Peter North and a clutch so heavy that my left leg is getting ready to win the Mr Universe competition. Still, I like it. And it’s the same model of vehicle as the Transformer “Ironhide” from the cartoon, so that’s a bonus.

    • Funk Daddy says:

      That’s what I always thought of 10 & 2, that it’s from back when you had to fucking wrestle your vehicle until you hit the highway, and parking lots could turn my 71 IH Travelall into an extreme full body workout. 

      But with todays cars you really never, ever will find yourself cussing and telling yourself to “put your back into it, think you a man!” just to get into a good spot in the parking garage.

      Never need to go overhand unless you just like to or something, in a modern (automatic) I could drive with my dick if I was in a good mood and both arms were broken

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      You’ve nearly perfectly described driving the 1977 280Z I used to have.  I couldn’t parallel park that beast to save my life.  This was also the first car that I owned which seemed explicitly designed to be driven with hands at 9 and 3.  

      • Churba S says:

        Oh man, I didn’t own a 280Z, but my father owned an old 260Z, It’s the car I learned to drive in. Another mate from after we all had our licenses owned a 280Z – God, they were wonderful machines. Except the wiring harness, which was apparently designed by a small amazonian monkey dropping frequent hits of acid. The first car I ever owned and bought with my own money? A Leyland Mini Clubman in Electric blue with a tuned up 1275 racing engine. Good lord, that thing was a fucking rocket.

        I don’t have much trouble Parallel parking the Van (or the 2xxZ series, for the most part), but I don’t know why that is – and most of the trouble with the van is that it’s like trying to parallel park a small apartment building for relative size. Probably just practice and technique, I guess, the majority of cars I’ve driven haven’t had power steering.

        • IronEdithKidd says:

          If it completes the picture a bit better, keep in mind that I’m an average height, below average weight USian lady.  The clutch being heavy wasn’t nearly as problematic as turning that damned steering wheel at 0 mph.  Electrical wasn’t as bad as the poor quality sheet metal the body was made from.  It was rather annoying that there was more than a mile of wire in that car, though.

  16. joelogs says:

    No longer? 8 and 4 was what was recommended when I took driver’s ed in the late nineties.

  17. Man, this is like my Driver’s Ed handbook that defined “oversteer” as “the tendency of new drivers to turn the wheel too much.” So much horrible technique in this video.

    Hands should be at 9 and 3, and never hand over hand. Move one hand at a time, and as has been mentioned, move your hands *before* the turn so you’re at 9 and 3 during the turn.

    Keep your thumbs out of the wheel under all circumstances, hitting something can cause the wheel to spin fast enough to break them, assuming the airbag doesn’t do the same.

    This is what I learned and taught at the track, and once you start doing it, every thing else seems foolish.

  18. Donald Petersen says:

    For me it always depended on my car.  I’m 6’2″ with fairly long arms, and I vary my hands’ positions during long drives.  My 1970 Cougar has fairly sensitive steering and a skinny rim-blow steering wheel (ha ha, very funny, it just means the horn switch is a rubber ring along the inside circumference of the wheel), so I usually stay close to 10 and 2 as a compromise between control and comfort (the wheel spokes are uncomfortably close for a 9 and 3 grip).  My 2007 RAV4 feels best at 9 and 3, as does our 2004 Sienna.  My 1987 Jag XJ6 had a telescoping column, so I’d usually keep it as far away as possible and steer with my left hand near 11.  I’d do the same with all my stick-shift cars.

    I typically won’t buy a car I can’t steer for a few seconds with my knees, but that hasn’t been an issue yet.  I’ve never driven a car where I didn’t have to shove the seat all the way back.

  19. dioptase says:

    I’m ok holding the wheel at 8.  But I don’t get off work until 5.  Can I hold the wheel then?

  20. Steve says:

    People use two hands?  Do cars still come without power assist steering?

  21. agonist says:

    10 & 2 can lead to a phenomenon known as “degloving”. Do not Google search for “degloving”.

  22. ImmutableMichael says:

    Depends on the timezone.  And daylight savings.

  23. AwesomeRobot says:

    9 and 3 is the way to be. 

  24. Christopher Houser says:

    No advocates here for left knee on 7?

    Pity, frees up your hands to do something distracting!

  25. jaddle says:

    Surely the way you hold the wheel depends a *lot* on what kind of driving you’re doing, no?  I’d find it rather odd if the drivers on a track were doing the same thing I did on a 9 hour road trip.

  26. HubrisSonic says:

    Never had to worry about this stuff when I drove a BigWheel. 

  27. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    I heard the guys on Car Talk explain how to do your mirrors.  You lean your head over to the left and adjust that mirror until it just shows a little of your car.  Then repeat on the right.  Now when you sit centered there should be almost no blind spot left.

    • My commercial van has big mirrors and I have stuck a little wide angle mirror into the left (curbside) mirror to help the situation. By leaning forward and backwards in the driving seat I can get a pretty good idea that there is nothing to my left before merging but I still like to merge after passing a parked car. There is a partial blind spot there. The only other thing which helps is counting vehicles, as in now where did that blue corolla go?.

  28. John Blair says:

    I like freeway driving with one hand at 6 o’clock.

  29. $19428857 says:

    The 8 and 4 steering wheel grip has been common in Italy for years. In fact, many older Italian cars have the steering wheels angled in such a way that 10 and 2 is downright awkward. My dad had an old Lancia like that, and it was hard to adjust to at first after learning to drive on American and English cars (I learned to drive on a Studebaker Lark that my dad bought for $35 in 1979, and on a Rover 2000TC (Google it), and my first car was an Austin Marina, the American import version of the Morris Marina, the car that the guys on BBC’s Top Gear love to drop pianos on). The other issue with the Lancia was it was right hand drive and had a 3-on-the-tree gear shifter on the left side of the steering column, so very little felt right about driving it at first. My dad never drove anything “normal”.

  30. kmoser says:

    I prefer about 3″ from the business end of the tiller.

  31. Jangocat says:

    8 and 4 definitely does not increase control. You will never ever see a race car driver using that grip.

  32. flickerKuu says:

    I’ve always done 8 and 4. With my knees.

  33. IvonaPoyntz says:

    9 and 3 feels more comfortable

  34. Ipo says:

     3 and 5 does not work for me. 

  35. Ramone says:

    Split the difference, 9 and 3! Or sometimes 7 with my thumb. You know. When cruisin.

  36. paulio says:

    I was told this quite a few years ago during school, our entire year went to an information day on car safety, emergency workers said it was kind of handy when accidents happened during 10 & 2 driving, as you could see the time of the crash from the indent of the watch on the forehead

  37. Marcus 9000 says:

    Looks like another reason to disconnect the steering wheel airbag to me.
    On initial impact airbag goes off, directional control of the vehicle is lost, car is full of dust/smoke.
    Good luck seeing and getting out of the way of the tandem gravel truck bearing down upon the accident scene.

    Get you hands out of your lap, wear the belt restraint, keep your hands on the wheel 9 & 3.

    Pay attention and drive.

    • chgoliz says:

      On impact, there’s something blocking your car from being able to manoever out of the situation.  Like, another car or a tree or a truck.  That’s kind of the definition of the word “impact”.  Something has just stopped your car by coming in direct contact with it.

      Airbags only deploy at a certain speed.  Hitting bumpers at 15 mph doesn’t cause them to deploy.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Looks like another reason to disconnect the steering wheel airbag to me.

      Yeah, you can just replace them with hydrogen filled balloons to cushion you in the event of a crash.

      I worked in a hospital during the era of driver-side-only airbags.  The drivers came to us, the passengers to the morgue.

  38. anon909 says:

    This is completely idiotic and dangerous to tell people to switch.  If a 10 and 2 trained driver moves to 8 and 4 the action response to the need to swerve right will result in swerving left.  What a dangerous thing to tell people to do.  And this opens up AAA to liability lawsuits as well.

    • chgoliz says:

      If the first couple of times a driver makes a turn using this new style, they are going so quickly or otherwise are sufficiently out of control that they create that much error, then they are probably no stranger to causing accidents anyway.

      Besides, the hand movements (left/right) are the same, so the “swerve” isn’t in the opposite direction.  Which makes me wonder about your driving skills.

      • anon909 says:

        Hands at the top- move them right, car turns right. 
        Hands at the bottom-  move them right, car turns left.

        • chgoliz says:

          You have a weird way of thinking about right/left in this instance.  To make the car go left while your hands are in 8 & 4, you must be thinking that you need to move your right hand upwards (with only the slightest sense of “moving right”) instead of pulling down on the steering wheel exactly the same way you do to turn right when your hands are at 10 & 2.  The movement of both hands is identical no matter where they are on the steering wheel (unless you do something stupid like criss-cross them).  Even if the steering wheel is fully horizontal, such as on a bus.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Is that an onion on your belt?

  39. Loren Pechtel says:

    I switched from the 10 & 2 we were taught to 8 & 4 very quickly because I find 10 & 2 very tiring.  I never found the slightest merit to 10 & 2 although I could see it being advantageous for someone with weak arms and no power steering.

  40. oasisob1 says:

    I think the auto manufacturers are planning to modify our steering wheels in the next few car generations, and they just want us to be ready…

    http://www.ram-controls.com/images/XXX-SWYOKEFINAL01-XXX.JPG

  41. Ari B. says:

    From what I remember of my EMT training, 10 and 2 is a good way to have the airbag deploy and break your arms by smashing them into your face.

  42. Ashley Coats says:

    Yeah I’m totally punching myself in the face if the airbags go off. I tend to end up with my hand upside down on 12 and the other at 6 when cruising. I should probably correct that. 

  43. Gavin Davies says:

    I don’t agree, I’m going to stick with the 2 and 10 o’clock position.  As if you need to make a sudden menova you can respond quicker.  I think by reducing the risk of an accident by driving correctly will be more beneficial.

  44. V says:

    An easy reference guide…

  45. artbyjcm says:

    I actually mentioned “10 and 2″ to a friend of mine, and she said “What’s that?” and I said “Oh, it’s where they tell people to hold the wheel, but I hold it way lower so my arms don’t hit me if the airbag goes off.” and the concept of holding the wheel up so high seemed downright foreign to her. After that I started asking my other friends about 10 and 2, and none of them, besides one friend of mine had ever even heard of it.

    10 and 2 though, is a bad idea on so many levels. I see people do it all the time too.

  46. Left hand 10, right knee 4, right hand around the passenger seat for my “gangsta lean”..

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