How do to hand-over-hand steering: Tips for new drivers

Good driving habits need to be built in from the start. That’s why your driving instructor will cover steering on your first lesson.

In this blog post, we’ll cover hand-over-hand steering, which is the safest and most efficient way to steer the steering wheel.

Steering the wheel: Correct hand placement

Your hands need to be outside of the wheel because doing so gives you more control. If your hands are kept inside the wheel, they could be injured during a crash due to the airbag deploying.

Sometimes, you will need to drive with one hand because you are changing something on the dashboard control, turning the wiper blades on or signaling. That said, always try to keep both hands on the wheel as it allows you to respond faster if you see anything dangerous on the road.

ICBC’s exact recommendation is as follows:

Imagine that the steering wheel is a clock. Put your hands at an equal height at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock or 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position, whichever’s more comfortable. Remember to keep both hands on the outside of the wheel. If there’s an airbag in the steering wheel, the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock or even an 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock position may be better than the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock.

At SenSen Driving School, we prefer students place their hands at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions as this technique is more sturdy and provides more control.

Hand-over-hand steering for right and left turns

To initiate a right turn, use your left hand and start pushing the wheel to the right. Cross your right hand over your left hand, and grab the top of the wheel (the 12 o’clock position) to keep turning. If you need to turn sharper, repeat the process.

When it is time to straighten up, release the steering wheel and slowly accelerate. (When releasing the steering wheel, allow it to pass through your hands as it returns.) As you accelerate, the wheel will straighten itself out. This is a tricky skill to master as you need to get the timing right. If you release the wheel too early, you may end up on the left side of the road. If you release too late then you might end up too close to the curb. Your instructor will work with you through this process.

The process is essentially the same for left turns, but you are using your right hand and pushing the wheel to the left.

Other tips about proper steering:

– The steering wheel controls the front two tires of the vehicle and it controls the direction of where the car is going.
– In most cars, the steering wheel will be adjustable. Please make sure you properly adjust it before you start driving.
– Make sure you are smoothly steering the wheel. Cranking the wheel or abruptly steering will make for an unpleasant ride for your passengers.

Some DON’Ts of steering the wheel

driving like a ganster

The following are bad habits I see students develop. Stay away from these habits as ICBC doesnt accept these techniques as proper steering procedure:

– Driving with one hand placed at 12 o’clock (I playfully call this the “gangster”)
– Grabbing the wheel from the inside when turning
– Palming the wheel to steer
– Shuffling the steering wheel
– Trying to drive with your knees

Just like any skill, steering takes time to master. Coordinating your hand and your eyes as you drive in a straight line or a smooth arc requires practice. Your driving instructor will work with you as you pick up this important skill.

As always, drive safe, drive smart and drive with confidence.


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