The most common reason drivers tend to lose control of their car is because they are not accessing the controls properly; a key component of that is how they handle the steering wheel.
There are instances when, for one reason or another, motorists tend to switch to one-handed driving. What they may not, or refuse to, realise is that they are putting themselves at risk of getting into an accident.
Every time you drive, you can bet on facing all kinds of unexpected scenarios. There could be a rider sprinting across your line of motion, or a fellow motorist swerving into your lane. With just one hand on the steering wheel, you may not be completely ready to react to these situations as quickly as desirable. Often, drivers end up stepping hard on the brakes to deal with these situations when a controlled manoeuvre is all that is required.
Another big reason why motorists drive with one hand is because the other hand is busy doing something else. Distracted driving has become one of the biggest culprits for many motoring incidents, and that is linked to the one-handed-driving habit. Whether texting on a smartphone or handling food and drink while driving, drivers are busy with everything else instead of the important task of driving, and using just one hand to steer a ton or more of metal around is plain scary!
Some motorists feel that driving around with one hand makes them look and feel cool, with their elbows sticking out of the window. But the moment they need to do a turning manoeuvre is when they realise that a one-handed turn does not quite complete the motion before they swerve into the curb, so they would have to quickly place both hands on the wheel. If they had been driving any faster, they would have likely ended up in a ditch — or worse! Precious time is lost every time you are trying to regain control of the steering wheel, and some moments do not afford you that time to correct a spin or a turn.
Other equally unsafe steering hand positions include the popular one-finger steering, the ‘hug my steering wheel like a pillow’ position, and having both hands at the top or bottom of the wheel. These hand positions are as good as having just one hand on the steering, as they restrict the driver’s steering motion, giving the driver only a limited amount of steering control and input, not to mention the danger that the driver faces when the airbag in the steering wheel deploys while their hands are literally hugging the steering wheel.
THE RIGHT POSITION
The proper and recommended way to hold a steering wheel is having the hands at the three and nine o’clock positions. This is the more comfortable and ergonomic position that keeps the driver’s body stable, and reduces any excessive steering-wheel movements that may lead to a serious accident. This helps drivers, especially younger ones, from overcorrecting their vehicle when faced with a situation that calls for a quick reaction.
To help drivers feel even more comfortable in this gripping position, car manufacturers have made their steering wheels with the appropriate contour indentations so that your hands grip easily and naturally at this optimal position. Access to secondary controls, such as turn signals and windshield wipers, have also been designed to be at that optimal position — you do not even have to remove your hands to use them. A relaxed but firm grip is enough to put you on the path to regaining control over your car.
Make this new position your habit from now on, and you will be ready when the situation calls for it. It is always good to remember that keeping two hands on the wheel is the only way you can always be ready to swerve, change lane positions, or turn unexpectedly to avoid a collision. Drivers can choose to drive with one hand on the wheel, but they need to know that they are putting themselves and others around them at risk when they do that!