William E. Van Tassel: All of us have a preferred way of gripping the steering wheel as we drive. The developments in vehicle convenience and safety features tell us that it's time to update our technique.
For years drivers have been taught to place their hands on the wheel at the positions of ten o'clock and two o'clock, and that used to be appropriate, because early cars did not have power steering and it was easier to start or turn by pulling down from a higher hand position. But the widespread availability of power steering has changed that thinking. The new recommended positions are at either eight o'clock and four o'clock or slightly higher at nine and three.
Although the nine and three position offers the advantage of symmetrical leverage, many people find that the eight and four position is the least fatiguing of all. The old ten and two grip raises some safety concerns as well. If a steering wheel mounted airbag deploys, it's more likely that the driver's forearm will be blown into their face, but using the lower hand positions, it's more likely that the arms would be blown out to the sides rather than up into the driver's face.
Steering wheel is one key to your driving safely. Using these lower hand positions will help you increase control and decrease your chance of injury in the case of a collision. So get a grip and drive safely.