When you’re first learning to drive a car, you’ll quickly be forced to pick up certain skills and techniques. Finding the biting point, and mastering clutch control, for example, are essential. Similarly important is your ability to control the steering wheel. You’ll need to be in control of the vehicle at all times, which means picking up a technique and mastering it quickly.
Learning to steer effectively can be a tricky thing – and even many experienced drivers have yet to master it. You might practice your steering technique at home with the help of a dinner plate, or some other substitute wheel. For best results, however, you’ll want to become comfortable with the real thing. Get some miles under your belt. You might borrow a car belonging to a friend or family member, equip yourself with the appropriate temporary learner insurance, and practice between lessons.
The Highway Code recommends that drivers keep both hands on the wheel at all times. But it doesn’t go so far as to mandate it. As such, you can drive one-handed without breaking the law. Indeed, changing gear usually requires that you take your left hand off the wheel.
With that said, most of the best steering-wheel techniques involve the use of both hands. Let’s examine a few of them.
10 and 2
This is the classic technique. Imagine that you’re looking at a traditional mechanical clock, with a minute hand and an hour hand. Put your left hand at ten, and the right hand at two. You should now have a 120-degree arc between the two of them. This is excellent for maintaining your grip on the wheel. You can simply feed it in one direction or the other by pulling and pushing just a few inches at a time.
Before setting out, make sure that you can keep your hands in this position. In many cases, you’ll want to move just a little bit closer, so that you can remain comfortable.
9 and 3
This is a slightly more extreme variant, where your hands sit directly opposite from one another, on the left and right of the wheel (just like the nine and three on a clock). Since your hands are going to be lower, you might find that the pressure on your shoulders is lowered and that you’re not quite as hunched over.
This technique is suited for slow, big turns, where you need to get the maximum out of the car’s turning circle. You’ll pull the wheel all the way down from twelve o’clock to six o’clock, pushing with one hand and pulling with the other. You mustn’t cross your hands – if you do so, then your control over the wheel will be limited.