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Here's How You Should Hold the Steering Wheel

Quick: where should your hold the steering wheel? At the 10 and 2 o'clock position? Well, that's what I was taught by my driving instructor, too, ages ago ... but that turned out to be wrong:

As cars have become safer over the years, "the steering wheel and associated mechanisms (have) changed dramatically," it says, meaning the familiar driving maneuvers "needed to turn the wheel have all changed." Principal among the changes is the incorporation of airbag modules in the steering column, which are designed to deploy upward to protect your head and chest.

That means the higher up the wheel your hands are, the more likely they are to be directly over the plastic cover when it opens — that is, when superhot nitrogen gas flashes and inflates the bag at 150 to 250 mph.

Among the injuries the NHTSA reports from improper placement of the hands when an airbag deploys are amputations of fingers or entire hands, traumatic fractures and a particularly stomach-churning injury called "degloving," which — trust us — you definitely don't want to look up.

The new hand position is 9 and 3, or even 8 and 4: Link

... and I looked up "degloving" *shudders* You do it at your own risk, mmkay?

@ Kevin George: Anecdotes Do Not Equal Data. Also the gummint does not mandate how the airbags are designed to deploy, only that there are secondary safety devices.

2nd gen airbags (anything past 1998) also only deploy at higher speeds thus preventing deployment in such circumstances as you describe.

Despite all of this I welcome you to drive with your head out the window at all times, if you wish.
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Don't wrap your thumbs unless you're ok with an airbag breaking your wrists.

CreamK, it's easy to say "that's stupid," but I doubt you have a better design for airbags that is practical to implement. If you do, great and good luck with your ingenious find. The airbag needs to be instantly in position for the head to hit it, and our body is built a certain way. Besides, 9 and 3 is perfectly fine and you'll find professional drivers on tracks driving that way.
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@Jolly - the advantage you would get from using the 9 and 3 position in a tractor trailer or transit vehicle would be from being to hold the wheel straight, in an emergency. You can "lock" it in from this position easier than 10 and 2.
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The government mandates a safety device that will injure us? What a surprise! If we must change hand position to avoid injury, then we should also drive with our heads outside the window. I've seen a car in which the passenger airbag inflated big enough to knock the mirror off the windshield, hitting the driver in the head, and sending her to the hospital. She had run into a curb. :(
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BTW I was always taught that the correct position was 9 and 3 anyway as were most people I know. Is this 10 and 2 thing peculiar to the US? Car manufacturers seem to assume the 9 and 3 position since things like the indicator and wiper controls tend to coincide with that hand position. Put your hands at 10 and 2 and you have to move them to reach the controls. At 9 and 3 those controls are at your fingertips.
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@Frau unless the wheel is not circular surely you will get the same leverage at 10 and 2 or 9 and 3, your hands being the same distance from the centre of the wheel.

One thing that does increase your leverage is sitting closer to the wheel. Ask any rally driver. You can apply much more force with your arms bent at 90 degrees or so than with them almost straight. Many car drivers however seem to go for the almost straight position to the extent of reclining their seat to achieve it.
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Mythbusters did a segment on the the myth of airbags removing fingers and found that though it was possible, it was rather unlikely to happen and they didn't see it happen themselves until they put the dummy in a really awkward position. Honestly, unless you drive like a weirdo I think we are all probably fine staying as it is.
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If you are driving a tractor trailer or transit vehicle - you are taught 9 and 3 because of the leverage you may need in the event there is an emergency, or a blow out.
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outside of the USA most airbags a srs airbags. srs stands for supplementary restraint system, the primary restraint is your seatbelt which everybody uses. srs airbags a usually round, so it doesn't matter where you put your hands
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That's just stupid, airbags should be designed to allow the optimal hand position used since 99,9999999% of the time the airbag isn't deploying... Ones hands should be so that thumbs are the ones that are pulling the wheel down, using the position pictured will break your thumbs if the steering column gets a sudden shock....
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