Holding the steering wheel – is there a right way?


Image of steering wheelOut-of-control motor vehicles can cause great harm. Therefore, learning how to drive in a way that maximizes control over the direction of their motion is very important. As one of the most important controls of a vehicle, the steering wheel must be handled with great care. How you hold and handle the wheel can determine whether you remain in control of the vehicle during both normal driving and unexpected dire situations that may arise on the roads. In addition, some ways of holding the steering wheel can expose you to greater risks of injury during a crash. So, absolutely, there are correct and incorrect ways of holding and handling the steering wheel.

During the Kenyan driving test, your testing officer will be on the lookout for how you handle the wheel and you will likely fail the test instantly if you hold it incorrectly.

There are two recommended ways of holding a steering wheel in Kenya. In the “ten to two position” (see “OLD WAY” in image below) your left hand holds the wheel at the upper left and the right hand at the upper right. This position is so named because if the steering wheel were a clock face, the position of your hands would mark out the time as 10 minutes to 2 o’clock. This position has been the top recommended position in Kenya for years because keeping your grip on the upper part of the wheel provides the best leverage if you need to make quick yet accurate corrections with the wheel. Together with an appropriate seating position, this stance is also comfortable.


Two ways of holding the steering wheel

Left to right: ten to 2 position; quarter to 3 position

In the “quarter to three position” (see “NEW WAY” in image above), your left hand holds the wheel at the middle of left half of the wheel while your right hand adopts the middle right position. This position is preferred nowadays due to the safer position of the hands were the airbag to deploy in the event of an accident. Installed in the center of the wheel, the airbag is a critical modern safety device that is designed to automatically inflate during a crash, cushioning the driver and preventing the severe injury that might be caused by the steering wheel. The airbag deployment is caused by rapidly expanding hot gas inside a balloon or airbag. The expansion is rapid enough that it can cause injury to any body parts that get entangled on the inside of the wheel. The quarter to three position is therefore preferred as it helps avoid injury by keeping the arms out of way of the rapidly expanding airbag. This position is preferred because it can help avoid injury.

Always hold the wheel with a firm grip in both hands that allows you to react and tighten it quickly when needed. While driving, make sure that your hands remain on the steering wheel always, except when you are changing gears (in which case the hand should return to the wheel as soon as possible) or when reversing and you need to look out the rear window.

Avoid the following:

  • Driving with only one hand on the wheel
  • Driving with arms resting on the window frame
  • Driving with hands on the spokes of the wheel
  • Driving with hands draped over the wheel – the wheel is not an armrest
  • Crossing hands while holding or turning the wheel

In order to driving safely consistently, a learner must build good habits, such the proper handling of the steering wheel. Understanding the underlying reasons for certain choices is important, but ultimately it is the constant practice of these skills that will build the habits and confidence needed to be a safe and considerate driver along Kenyan roads. It will also help you pass the driving test and qualify for a driving licence. Properly licensed driving schools can provide a well equipped vehicle in which you can practice safely until you are proficient.

Click here to try some of the driving test questions that you can expect during the theory part of the Kenyan driving tests. This particular quiz focuses on road signs and their meanings. In addition to the questions and score, you can find out the correct answers for any questions which you get wrong. Practice makes perfect, so you can take these quizzes as many times as you want.



3 thoughts on “Holding the steering wheel – is there a right way?

    • Thank you for your question emmah. The correct answers should appear below your score. Unfortunately that functionality appears to be of of order currently. We’re sorting it out. Apologies.

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