Have you been driving the car for more than twenty years? Then chances are you have learned to place your hands at the top of the steering wheel, at ten to two. But according to several international studies, this attitude can be life-threatening.
Your driving instructor may have reminded you dozens of times: your hands, like a clock, should be at ten to two. This is the only way to respond safely and quickly to traffic situations. For the past ten years, however, most car experts have referred that theory to the trash.
“That has everything to do with the emergence of the steering airbag,” says Jense Hooghiemstra, instructor at the Belgian Slipway. “The airbag is a system designed to limit physical damage in the event of a major accident. In concrete terms, it is a large bag that will inflate at an enormous speed from your handlebars. This way it protects your head against a heavy blow. The problem, however, is that that airbag will explode diagonally out of your steering wheel in a crash. Placing your hands on top of the steering wheel can cause your hands or arms to be catapulted back. And that can lead to serious injuries.”
Something confirmed by the US traffic authority NHTSA. “Incorrect hand placement can cause serious injuries.” Think of bruised limbs, fingers that have to be amputated or pieces of skin that are torn off. In addition, your hand can also shoot against your head due to the enormous explosion. This can lead to serious concussions or broken nasal bones.
What is the correct attitude?
To avoid serious injuries, specialists around the world recommend placing your hands on the steering wheel at a quarter to three. So put your hands on the outer sides of the steering wheel. This reduces the risk of physical injury from the airbag. “Moreover, you will be able to steer more smoothly, and your sitting posture will automatically be better”, says instructor Jense. “It is not for nothing that manufacturers place the turn signals and levers for windshield wipers at that height. This is all intended to make it as easy as possible for you as a driver.”
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