Steering Wheel Grip: Time For An Update

January 24, 2013

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I learned how to drive a car by operating a Honda Civic with a manual transmission near the cornfields of Central Illinois in the early 1980s. As I recall, my father always told me to imagine that the steering wheel was a clock and I should grip the steering wheel at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position to maximize control and quick maneuverability. So...that was the way I was taught; that was the way I drove; and that is way I continue to do it today.

The Honda Civic had power steering. The 1952 Chrysler Imperial was the first passenger vehicle to have power steering, and the technology became widely available in cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In short, the technological invention made it easier to turn the steering wheel with little effort; particularly, when the car was slowing or stopped. I remember that driving a car without power steering became a chore and took a good deal of muscular exertion with every turn.

Now, I drive a SUV and a Ford pickup, both of which have power steering. The SUV also has a faux wood steering wheel that needs to be gripped tightly. Up until yesterday, I was driving that car using the old 10 o'clock 2 o'clock position. However, today, I read an article that references a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) that concludes that this grip technique is not only incorrect but dangerous as well. State Farm and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both made this determination as well.

Apparently, in the days of yore before power steering, the "10 and 2" position enabled a motorist to exert more control by pulling down on the side of the steering wheel to enable a turn. However, most--if not all--cars produced today are equipped with power steering and the wheel does not require such force or placement of the hands.

I guess that makes sense. But why would the old position of "10 and 2" be dangerous to a motorist? The answer lies in the invention of air bags, which are activated in the console of the steering wheel. The logic follows that if a motorist is involved in a collision of such magnitude or force that it activates the air bags, and the driver has his/her hands in the "10 and 2" position at the top of the steering wheel, then the air bag deployment will knock the motorist's hands and forearm into the face of the motorist and cause injury such as finger injuries, hand/finger amputations and/or degloving, which is a medical reference to losing the skin on one's extremities.

It is estimated that some air bags deploy between 150-200 mph and faster than a blink of an eye (about 21-25 milliseconds). However, if the motorist's hands are in the "9 and 3" or the "8 and 4" position, then the deployment of air bags would most likely only push and bend the hands and forearm to the side and cause no injury.

It's logical; yet, the change to this position is awkward and makes me feel that I do not have my hands in a position to quickly act if I encounter any sudden emergency on the road. According to the study, most motorists find that the "8 and 4" position causes less fatigue. Although for any engineer, the "9 and 3" position seems more symmetrical. And...an argument could be made that motorists who find themselves in a sudden emergency, place too much exertion in the "10 and 2" and overcorrect in an exaggerated turn and lose control of their vehicle.

Every day, there are many motorists on the roads of Georgia that lose control of their vehicle that cause damage to property and to other motorists and passengers. If you are injured in a car collision or car accident in Georgia due to the loss of control of an automobile, Mr. Ford can help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries, lost earnings or wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. In auto accident cases, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney immediately to secure and preserve physical and documentary evidence of the crash before such evidence is destroyed or moved.

The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford represent clients throughout Georgia who were seriously injured or lost a loved one in car wrecks. As such, The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting trucking and car accident cases throughout Georgia. It is not uncommon for accident victims to suffer catastrophic and life changing injuries with expensive medical bills and future treatment. Mr. Ford can help clients obtain monetary compensations necessary to pay for past, present and future medical care and provide for a new start. Please contact us today for a free consultation.