A Steering Wheel Airbag Warning

One thing I've always remembered from my Driver's Ed class was to hold the steering wheel with my left hand at the 10 o'clock position and my right hand at the 2 o'clock position. It turns out that since the technology in our cars has improved, it's also time to improve the way you hold your steering wheel.

It used to be that before power steering was popular, holding the steering wheel toward the top made it easier to generate momentum in turning the wheel by pulling down, to the left or right. Now that vehicles all have power steering, it is no longer necessary to use the "10" and "2" positions, and in fact, could be dangerous.

According to AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the new recommended positions for your hands are at 9 and 3 o'clock. The reason is simple: when a steering-wheel-mounted airbag goes off, it is designed to deploy upward to protect your head and chest. If your arms are positioned over parts of the airbag mechanism, the airbag can slam your hands into your head... making a bad situation worse.

If your hands are positioned on the sides of the steering wheel, at 9 and 3 o'clock, the airbag is more likely to push your arms out to the side. Additionally, the 9 and 3 positions are more ergonomic. According to the Driver Training Division of the Texas Department of Safety, the lower position: "...improves stability by lowering the body's center of gravity. This more natural seating position also helps the driver to keep both hands on the wheel and reduces back pain often associated with long trip driving."

So there you have it. Move your hands a little lower, be a little safer and a lot more comfortable.