Many of us take our bodies for granted with all limbs intact but still be unaware of how to drive safely. Let’s look at the ways of holding and using the steering wheel.
If you have two hands how do you hold the steering wheel of your car? With one hand or two? In which positions? How do you turn the wheel when going forwards? When reversing? Do you use the push-pull method? Or do you prefer to cross over your arms? Hold the wheel with hand or a couple of fingers? Or do you let someone else steer as Bart Simpson does in this cartoonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL5UJtIJDIA
Imagine your steering wheel is the face of a clock and you’re driving ahead. Where are your hands? Before airbags and subsequent injures to forearms after impact, the recommendation was to have your hands at ‘ten to two’ but now it is ‘quarter to three’. With both hands on the wheel, it allows you full control especially if you have to take evasive action.
To prevent neck and upper back pain on long distance trips, you need to consider the angles of your seat and its relation to the steering wheel. The most comfortable is to sit no closer than 25 centimetres and when you extend your arm at 90 degrees, your wrist rests on top of the wheel. Play around with seat positions and if you can, raise or lower the steering wheel on its column. This is where modern cars have many more safety and comfort features such as full seat adjustability than older or classic cars. Some modern prestige cars even have their own seat massager- my idea of bliss on a long distance drive. If you do have neck or upper back pain, when stopped at traffic lights rest your hands in your lap and shrug shoulders. However always keep an eye on the traffic around you in the rear view and side mirrors in case you have to steer away quickly.
Also check to see how tight you are holding the wheel. On long distances it is easy to clench too hard and have finger cramps especially in the your thumb. Stretch your fingers from time to time. Your thumb needs to lie loosely along the upper edge of wheel towards you as in the photo above.
So what is the push-pull method? Imagine a line from 12 to 6 on your clock and each hand is not to cross that line but keep to its own side. To steer to the left, the left hand pushes up from 9 to 12 and the right hand pulls down from 3 to 6. And the opposite occurs for turning to the right. Have a look at this video for demonstration:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxa6lF-l13c
When turning around a corner, you need a greater range of movement so using all the clockface. There are exceptions to this method such as ascending/descending steep winding shopping centre carparks or anywhere with sharp corners when you will need to cross your arms to fully turn the wheel. Again there is a safe way. Click on this video for demonstration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25WswskZzqI
If you drive a manual car, after you have changed gears return your hand to the steering wheel rather than resting it on the gear stick handle.
Now look at these photos and see how some people incorrectly hold the wheel .
Need assistance with holding and using the steering wheel? New technology is moving fast to assist anyone with a physical ability to drive. Click on New tag at top of this page and read http://www.longdistancedriving.com/news/new-technology-assisting-drivers-with-disabilities/
Until next month, safe and enjoyable long distance driving.