If you have a car, then the first thing you learned about it is steering. In fact, safe steering techniques are visually less dramatic and require you to keep both hands on the wheel and keep both eyes on the road. However, it’s highly recommended to learn safe steering techniques from a certified driving school although in this article we are going to provide you with basics on how to safely steer your car while driving.
STEP-1: How To Hold The Steering Wheel Correctly:
-Hold the steer-wheel with both hands: This will help you to maintain as much control as possible over the car at all times. So, if your car has a manual transmission, then shift gears when needed but do not maintain a needless grip on the gearshift afterward. Instead, return your hand to the steering wheel immediately. However, turning on your windshield wipers, headlights and turning signals will require you to remove one hand from the steering-wheel. In fact, these controls are typically located close to the steering wheel to minimize the time spent driving one-handed. Likewise, reversing the car is another exception to this rule.
-Try to keep your grip firm: Try resisting the urge to slacken your grip on the steering-wheel. Also be careful not to clench the wheel too tensely because this can tire your arms out and possibly obscure warning signs that reverberate through the steering wheel. Additionally, feeling the vehicle through the steering wheel is another important reason to steer with both hands.
-Hold the steer-wheel at “10-&-2” or “9-&-3”: Take the steering wheel as an analogue clock face with 12 o’clock as the apex of the wheel. After, use your left hand to hold the wheel at either the 9 or 10 o’clock position and hold the other side of the steering wheel at either the 3 or 2 o’clock position with your right hand. In fact, 10-and-2 is better suited for older cars or any other vehicle with larger steering wheels and no power steering. 9-and-3 has become the new norm for modern cars equipped with power steering, smaller steering wheels and airbags.
-Use your thumbs too: When driving on paved roads, hold the wheel with your thumbs hooked around the steering wheel. In case you turn off-road, remove the thumbs. However, place your thumbs along the steering wheel’s rim as if you were giving two thumbs-up. Likewise, hooking your thumbs under the rim while driving off-road may set you up for injury since the car-tires could strike obstacles hard enough to jolt the steering wheel in your hand. If you are driving on a paved road with your hands at 9-and-3, nestle your thumbs along the wheel’s spokes where they meet the rim.
STEP-2: How To Change Directions:
-Begin with the push-&-pull technique: Pull the steering wheel down in the direction that you wish to turn (for left turns, pull with your left hand & vice-versa). However, as you pull the steering wheel down, relax your other hand. Bring it down along the wheel to meet your “pulling” hand above your crotch. When they meet, relax your “pulling” hand and let your other hand take over. Push the steering-wheel up until the turn has been executed. In case you are just learning how to drive, start with this technique to make turns since it is a cinch to master. Additionally, favor this technique while driving off-road or in dense areas with frequent sharp turns and heavy traffic since this technique will give your hands free access to tools like: gearshift and turn signals. You can also use this technique with larger steering wheels or in cars without power steering. Lastly, the push-and-pull is also referred to as the “shuffle” technique.
-Move on to rotational steering: Turn the wheel in the direction you wish to turn your car but maintain a 9-and-3 or 10-and-2 grip on the wheel as you do so. If you need to turn the wheel more than 90 degrees to finish your turn, relax whichever hand is now directly above your crotch and keep it there. Continue to turn the wheel with your “top” hand until it meets your “bottom” hand above your crotch. At this point, bring your “bottom” hand up to the top of the wheel & continue pulling the wheel down to complete the car’s turn. So, use this technique for slight changes in direction like changing lanes. Also favor this technique when driving on highways or other open roads at higher-speeds. Likewise, rotational steering is sometimes referred to as fixed-input steering.
-Try to master steering in reverse: Check all your mirrors to make sure the rear of the car is free of people and obstacles. After, place one arm around the back of the side-passenger seat then twist your upper torso in that direction by 90-degrees for a better view through the rear window. Grip the steering wheel at roughly 12 o’clock with your other hand. To back the car up to its right, turn the steering wheel to its right and vice-versa. However, keep in mind that you will have a limited view of the driver’s side of the car while in this position. If possible, allow the car to roll backwards under its own momentum. But if gas is needed, only apply a little pressure on the pedal at a time to avoid backing up too fast. Lastly, do not rely on mirrors or rearview cameras alone to steer in reverse.
STEP-3: How To Ensure A Safe Drive:
-Adjust the seat & steering column properly: Fix the relative height and distance so that you can sit comfortably. Additionally, don’t set your seat so far back that you have to lean forward to grip the steering wheel. Likewise, avoid placing undue stress on your body which may tire you out and distract you making you less responsive. However, the positioning of your seat may effect which grip you find more comfortable like; 9-and-3 or 10-and-2. So, taller people may find 10-and-2 most comfortable due to the limits of how much they can adjust either the steering column or their seat.
-Consider looking farther down the road: Extend your sights at least a half-mile to a mile farther up the road. Additionally, keep your eyes open for any curves, hazards or other factors that may necessitate a change in direction. Anticipate when you need to turn early on and give yourself as much time as possible to plan and execute changes in direction. In case you’re passing through a tight curve that significantly reduces your field of vision, always focus on the farthest point that you can see ahead of you. Additionally, trust your peripheral vision to alert you of sudden changes that appear closer to hand.
-Factor in your speed when steering: Anticipate that a change in direction at slow speed will require greater physical effort with the steering wheel. On top of that, be prepared to turn it by a greater number of degrees in low-speed areas like parking lots, residential streets and urban neighborhoods. Likewise, keep your turning actions with the wheel very slight when driving fast. Expect a slight turn of the wheel to cause a very pronounced change of direction on high-speed roads like highways.
-Keep “dry-steering” to a minimum: Turning the steering wheel when the car is parked or at rest can have adverse effects on your tires and power-steering. So, only do so when necessary like when parallel-parking or executing a K-turn. Otherwise, try to avoid it.
-Try practicing safe one-handed steering: Maintain optimum control over the car while using controls other than the steering wheel. Additionally, use your nearest hand to operate functions like turn-signals and gear-shifts while driving. However, keep your other hand where it is as you do so and don’t risk letting go of the wheel to alter its position.
-Be attentive when steering a car on the road: Don’t smoke, eat, operate a mobile phone to take calls or send texts or program while driving. This is because these activities are illegal in some countries and could result in a fine and all of them compromise your control of your vehicle.