“9 and 3” Driving Position for Safety

When first learning how to drive, many people are told to use the “10 and 2” steering wheel position. Driving school instructors have even made it part of what they teach student drivers.

However, new research is suggesting that the “10 and 2” steering position may be causing more crashes than preventing them. Research points to the “9 and 3” position being a safer option.

The car accident lawyers at Cloward Trial Lawyers have composed information on the “9 and 3” steering wheel position and other useful tips to avoid a car accident.

Hand Position at the Wheel

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that every driver should have both hands outside of the steering wheel on opposite sides. They recommend a gentle but firm grip on the steering wheel.

The NHTSA also advises that you should hold the steering wheel in the “9 and 3” position, even when making turns. The “9 and 3” position is replacing the old “10 and 2” position that drivers were taught for years.

Why the “9 and 3” Position?

It is time to slide those hands down the steering wheel. Here are a few reasons why:

For Safety

The “9 and 3” position is proving to be safer, especially when it comes to the deployment of airbags during a crash.

Airbags can deploy up to speeds of 200 miles per hour, traveling 12 to 18 inches. Drivers are encouraged to keep their hands in the “9 and 3” position while making turns. This prevents a motorist’s arms and hands from being amputated in a crash.

Keeping your hands further down the wheel also prevents your arms from striking your head or face with the initial force of the airbag being set off.

For Ergonomics

Driving is not the same as sitting in a chair. When driving, your arms are positioned higher than if you were working at a desk. This can cause carpal tunnel syndrome in some motorists, which can present as a tingling or numbing sensation in the arms.

Besides providing necessary safety, the “9 and 3” position should be used because it is more comfortable for the driver. In a “9 and 3” driving position, the driver’s arms will be less tired when driving long distances. Since the driver will not need to hold their arms up as high, this position can also help prevent a stiff neck and sore shoulders.

For Maximum Control

Steering with your hands in the “9 and 3” position can provide smooth and uninterrupted steering control. In this position, your hands are 180 degrees from each other, which allows you to have more maneuverability during turns.

The “9 and 3” position also keeps your hands in an ideal position for “push/pull steering.” In the “push/pull” steering method, your hands will not leave their wheel position whether you are turning left or right.

In taking a turn, one hand will push the wheel up as the opposite hand slides up, grasps the wheel, and pulls down to make the turn. While the pulling hand moves down, the hand that was originally pushed up will slowly return to its original position.

Unlike alternative steering options, “push/pull steering” gets the NHTSA seal of approval. The “9 and 3” position is most effective with this steering method.

Why the Change from “10 and 2” to “9 and 3”?

Older model cars used to have larger steering wheels. The “10 and 2” technique gave drivers more control at the wheel. This came in handy if they needed to maneuver quickly to avoid a collision.

With newer cars, especially electric vehicles, the “10 and 2” position no longer makes sense. Electric vehicles have smaller steering wheels, making “9 and 3” the ideal position.

Even with research suggesting that the “9 and 3” position is better suited for cars today, many older folks may have a difficult time adapting to the change.

Steering Wheel and Seat Ergonomics

Some steering wheels are designed so that they can be tilted up or down. If your steering wheel has this feature, then you should tilt the wheel pointing to your chest. If you are in a crash, then the airbag will be hitting your chest, not your head or stomach.

To avoid strain on your lower back, you will want to make sure that your seat is adjusted so that you can reach the pedals with your knees bent. If you are sitting to close to the wheel, then you may have to hold your foot up to avoid unintentionally depressing the pedals.

Depending on your height, you may need to recline your seat back. This will prevent you from putting unnecessary pressure on your lower back.

Seat positioning, in combination with a relaxed arm position at the wheel, should ensure you have a comfortable drive.

Ways to Prevent a Collision

While the “9 and 3” steering wheel position can help keep you safer behind the wheel, there are other steps that can be taken to prevent a car accident:

  • Stay focused: drivers who become distracted behind the wheel are more likely to cause a crash. Distracted driving took the lives of 3,142 people in 2020.
  • Do not drive when impaired: driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs often leads to devastating consequences. Depending on your level of impairment, your response time will be reduced or even negated.
  • Do not drive drowsy: driving when drowsy also affects your response time. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 6,400 people die annually from operating a vehicle while drowsy.
  • Keep your distance: be sure not to drive too closely to the vehicle in front of you. In a recent year, tailgating caused over 2,300 deaths.
  • No speeding: drivers who speed have an increased stopping time if they need to avoid a road hazard. Between 2017-2021, speeding accounted for 29% of the fatal crashes in Clark County.

A Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Near You

No matter the number of preventive measures we take behind the wheel, accidents still happen. Although some accidents are unavoidable, everyone deserves quality legal representation.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us today. Let us put our legal knowledge to work for you. 

Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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