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Hand Position on Steering Wheel

When I was grwoing up in the 1940's and 1950's we were taught to place our left hand at 11:00 and right hand at 5:00 on the steering wheel. With power steering the hand positions were changed to 10:00 and 2:00. Now with with airbags the recommended hand position is 7:00 and 5:00. Can anyone explain why it was 11:00 and 5:00 during the 40's and 50's?


  • edited July 2009
    Lack of experience.
  • edited July 2009
    I'll guess pre power steering required more leverage. Have always used 7/5 position, and encouraged that to my kids when teaching them to drive. Arms are more relaxed, can react quicker in either direction and have greater range of motion. Over correction when highway driving seems less of a problem as well. See others who want a death grip on the wheel....usually in the 11/5 position.

    7/5 and relaxed position is common to many sports that require quick hand reaction, why should driving be any different.
  • edited July 2009
    I go with 7/5 or 4/8. What scares me is someone with one hand at 12 and the other holding a cell phone.
  • edited July 2009
    I think the change has to do with a higher focus on safety. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, automotive safety wasn't a big focus, and the odds of losing someone in an auto accident was higher than it is today.
  • edited July 2009
    I've never heard of 11:00 and 5:00 before.
  • edited July 2009
    10:00 and 2:00 is also known in professional driving circles as the "Nascar grip". It's the safest hand position to use in case of a blow-out or if you need to manuver quickly and precisely. 7:00 and 5:00 is dangerous as well as 11:00 and 5:00. You would have very little manuverability in these positions. I vote that they be known as the "dead mans grip".
  • edited July 2009
    Used to be 10 and 2, but airbags now make that unsafe. Nobody's mention 9 and 3, but that's what I use.
  • edited July 2009
    I believe the 7/5 is so your arms do not get blown off your torso when the air bag comes flying out at you at 100 mph.

    I was taught the 10/2 position but for years I placed my left hand at 9 and my right hand at 6. This is the 9:30 position, that way I am always 30 minutes early wherever I go.
  • edited July 2009
    In my Civic, I'm using the 9 position with my right arm usually on the arm rest. When driving my Chevelle, I used the right arm 12 and left arm out the window when I drove around town.
    When test driving, I usually start out with the 9/3, but will tend to drop the 3 if I get comfortable with the vehicle.
  • edited July 2009
    I just went to a manufactures driving course, and their recommended driving position for the hands is at 9 and 3 on the wheel. This and the proper seating position keep you both safest in a crash and most able to avoid a crash. Seat should be set so your head (in a sedan/coupe/sporty car) is a fist width from thumb to pinky below the head liner, knee of leg on th dead pedal can't lock, brake is fully extended without locking knee, wrists rest on top of wheel without shoulders moving off of seat back, and head rest elevated to match your height.

    So, in a crash, your hands blow sideways and free, your knees aren't locked, your head is supported, etc etc. It all makes a difference.
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