Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook

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Hand positions

There are two correct hand positions on a steering wheel: "9 and 3" and "8 and 4."

These methods refer to visualizing the steering wheel as the face of a clock, and positioning the left hand at the 9 or 8 and the right hand at the 3 or 4 o'clock position. Steering wheels and shoulder widths differ, so exactly where people grasp the wheel will vary.

On a vehicle equipped with an airbag in the steering wheel, a hand placed on the top of the wheel may be forced back into the driver's face if the airbag is deployed, causing injury.

Once your hands are in correct position, do not shuffle them around on the wheel. Keep your grip in the same place and simply twist the steering wheel to turn the vehicle.

You can twist the wheel until your forearms touch. To steer beyond this point, you will have to use a "hand over hand" or "hand-to-hand" sequence.

The key to steering is to know the steering wheel position at which your front wheels are straight. When you start out, straighten your front wheels and place your hands in position. Provided that you do not shift your grip, every time your hands are straight and level, you know your front wheels are straight.

"9 and 3"

9 and 3

"8 and 4"

8 and 4

"Hand over hand"

This method is used when turning the wheel sharply either when driving slowly or in emergencies when conditions are very slippery.

As you turn the wheel, pull the wheel down with the top hand, take the bottom hand and put it up at the top, pull the wheel down with the top hand, take the bottom hand and put it at the top, etc.

When unwinding the wheel after a turn, use the hand over hand system. Do not let the wheel slide through your hands - you have very little control of the speed at which it comes back or the point at which it stops.

Hand over hand

Hand over hand


Commonly called push/pull steering or zone steering, when using the hand-to-hand steering method, your left hand grasps the wheel between 7 and 8 o’clock, and your right hand between 4 and 5 o’clock.

Depending on the direction you turn, your right or left hand pushes the wheel up and the opposite hand slides up, grasps the wheel and pulls down to turn.

While the pulling hand moves down, the hand that initially pushed up slides back toward its original position to make adjustments as needed. The driver should use the area on the wheel between 11 and 8 o’clock with the left hand and the area on the wheel between 1 and 8 o’clock with the right hand regardless of the direction of the turn.

Simply reverse the process to bring the vehicle back to the desired path. Since your hands never cross over the steering wheel, there is less chance of an injury to the face, hands or arms induced by your hands or arms in the event of a frontal crash due to an air bag.


Rev: 2017