Where Should Your Hands Be On The Steering Wheel?

For most new drivers, driving is about controlling the wheels in the right direction. But there’s more to that. Holding the steering wheel on the right position is essential since the steering wheel controls the vehicle’s direction.

You can navigate the vehicle properly with the correct hand placement on the wheel. And you can minimize the risk of car accidents by holding the wheels correctly. But where should your hands be on the steering wheel when driving?

Here, we’ll explain the types of driving methods, hand positions on steering wheel for driving test, and common mistakes new drivers make. But first, let’s discuss effective driving techniques.

9 and 3 steering wheel

Using Efficient Steering Techniques

Bad driving techniques are one of the common issues that cause mishaps in the road—so learning defensive and effective driving techniques will keep you from road accidents. Let’s look at some of the effective driving techniques you should know.

Sit comfortably

Sitting comfortably and properly will help you control the wheels effectively. On the contrary, you won’t control the wheels properly if you’re not comfortable or sitting in the wrong position.

Hand positions

According to experts, driving hand positions 8 and 4 o’clock is the best hand placement on the wheel because they put less strain on your muscles. These hand positions also prevent, or at least reduce, hand injuries during accidents. Meanwhile, we’ll discuss other safe hand placements as we progress along.

Adjust the seats

This one speaks more of me. The topic of adjusting seats cannot be overemphasized. Adjust the seat to where you won’t stress your arms when holding the wheels.

For example, my brother is taller than me, and we mostly drive the same car. So, I have to adjust the seat properly whenever I take the wheel from him. Not that I can’t steer the wheel without adjusting the seats, but I won’t feel comfortable and don’t want to stress my muscles.

Steer with both hands

Undoubtedly, most drivers can control the steering wheel with one hand. But they can not swerve the car with one hand in an emergency. Therefore, new and expert drivers should drive with both hands on the wheel.

Avoid overcorrecting the car.

Do not steer the wheel forcefully when changing lanes. This may be common with some drivers and can be catastrophic suppose a vehicle or any road user is coming without your notice.

where should your hands be on the steering wheel california

Types of Steering Methods

When asking where should your hands be on the steering wheel in California or any other city, you need to understand that there are three types of driving methods. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are three types of steering methods.

Hand-to-hand steering

According to NHTSA, hand-to-hand driving is the preferred method of steering by most drivers. But where should your hand be placed on the steering wheel when using hand-to-hand steering?

This method is called push/pull steering and requires the driver to place his right hand between 4 and 5 O’clock and his left hand between 7 and 8 O’clock. So, if you were asking where should your hands be when holding the steering wheel when using hand-to-hand steering, you now know the answer.

With this steering method, the right or left hand pushes the steering wheel up, and the other hand pulls it down, depending on the direction you’re steering to.

Hand-over-hand steering

According to NHTSA, hand over hand is the best steering method when parking a vehicle, cornering at low speed with poor visibility, or recovering from skidding. Here, the driver places his right hand on the steering wheel between 3 and 4 O’clock and his left hand between 8 and 9 O’clock.

When steering, use the right top third of the steering wheel to move in the right direction and do the opposite to steer to the left. Grab the wheel with your left or right hand and push up the wheel. Take the other hand off the wheel, go across your arms, hold the wheel, and pull the steering wheel over, up, or down as you want. You can take off the pushing hand and hold the wheel again at its formal position.

One hand steering

We mentioned earlier that driving with one hand can be dangerous. Nonetheless, we have a one-hand driving method that requires you to drive with one hand. This method is popular when backing out of a parking slot or when you need to turn on the windshield wipers or switch on other vehicle controls.

Here, the driver drives with one hand while on the road while operating system controls. However, this is just for a short while.

This method is called the 9 and 3 steering wheel method because it requires you to drive with one hand while keeping it in normal vehicle driving position. This position keeps the car stable with one hand and minimizes the risk of losing control of the wheel.

Where Should Your Hands Be on the Steering Wheel?

We have seen different methods of driving. So, if you are asking, when driving, where should your hands be? The answer depends on the driving method you’re using. For instance, if you’re using hand-to-hand steering, your right hand should be between 4 and 5 O’clock, and your left hand between 7 and 8 O’clock.

When using hand over hand steering method, your left hand should be between 3 and 4 O’clock, and the right hand should be between 8 and 9 O’clock. So, where should your hand be on the steering when backing up? Place your hand at 3 O’clock or 9 O’clock when using one hand either for backing up or activating the control buttons or to change gears in a manual transmission with the other hand.

where should your hands be on the steering wheel


Q: What is the most common mistake new drivers make?

Take it or leave it; driving can be fun and exciting, even for new drivers. However, it can also be stressful and unnerving, especially for new guys in the club. However, studies have shown that most unnerving and stressful situations result from a lack of experience behind the wheel.

Here are the most common mistakes new drivers make on the road.

  • Over speeding
  • Texting & driving
  • Not paying full attention on the road
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Not adapting their driving style to bad weather conditions
  • Not wearing seatbelts
  • Adopting their parents’ bad driving style
  • Close driving
  • Not following the rules of the road
  • Carrying too many people in the car
  • Panicking while driving
  • Driving when tired.

Q: Where should your hands be on a steering wheel for a test?

Driving techniques for hand placement have changed drastically over the years. National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) now recommends the “9 and 3 driving method.”

This means that you should place your left hand on the left side of the steering wheel at 9 O’clock as if the wheel is a wall clock and place your right hand at the 3 O’clock position. The recommendations may vary, but this is how to hold the steering wheel for a test.

Q: Why is the 8 and 4 o’clock hand position recommended for steering?

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) recommends 8 and 4 O’clock because it reduces the risk of road accidents. However, it is essential to note that 8 and 4 and 9 and 3 are the same as the hand-over-hand steering method. We explained earlier that you should place your left hand between 8 and 9 O’clock and your right hand between 3 and 4 O’clock on the hand-over-hand steering method.

Q: Is 10 and 2 better?

According to American Automobile Association (AAA), experts do not recommend the 10 and 2 steering positions. It can be dangerous. Experts recommended the 10 and 2 steering methods before the invention of power steering systems. Back then, steering wheels need much strength to turn.

Q: Can you cross your hands in a driving test?

Disregard any misconception about crossing your hands in a driving test. Crossing your hands on driving tests will not cause you to fail. Everyone develops driving styles that suit and makes them confident behind the wheel. As a result, most drivers will feel relaxed and comfortable crossing their hands on the wheel.

For this reason, it is quite reasonable to let drivers steer realistically than driving like a robot. Examiners understand this, too, and allow crossing hands during a test.

Q: How high should your steering wheel be?

You should set the steering wheel so the center is as high as your neck. This should allow you to flex your hands and use the hand-to-hand, hand-over-hand, and one-hand steering methods comfortably.

How to Position Your Hands on the Steering Wheel YouTube 

Final Words

If you have been reading to this end, you have had all your answers to where should your hands be on the steering wheel. This article has outlined effective driving techniques, types of driving methods, common mistakes new drivers make, and where you should place your hands on the steering wheels.

Each driving method has a recommended position to place your hands. Therefore, there’s no single answer to where you should place your hands on the steering wheel. However, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration recommends the hand-to-hand steering method.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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