It’s something we all do in our cars without even thinking about. But a new study reveals that how we hold the steering wheel actually says something about the kind character – and driver – we are.
Conducted by Select Car Leasing the research was carried out with psychotherapist Lohani Noor. She said: “Your driving hand position certainly reflects your mood and personality.
“If you feel uptight or stressed, you might have both hands on the wheel and shoulders up. This can also be the case if you’re an antisocial personality type. If you have a more relaxed personality, you’re more likely to drive with one hand on the top of the steering wheel.”
We look at the nine driving positions Ms Noor has picked out and decode what they mean in terms of personality type.
…positions their hands how their driving instructor taught them: at ten to two. According to Ms Noor they are the sort of person who plays by the rules, dots the ‘I’s and crosses the ‘T’s.
…has one hand on the bottom part of the wheel at about four o’clock. They like life to keep life simple and don’t make a fuss about things.
…places one hand firmly either side of the steering wheel. Rather than quarter to three as driving instructors prefer, they’re at twenty to four. Doing this shows they consider themselves to be a safe pair of hands. Being in control comes naturally to them and they consider themselves to be trustworthy.
…holds the wheel at twenty-five to five. They grasp the wheel from below, clasping their fingers over the wheel. The position shows someone who is a great listener, supportive of their friends and family but who is happy for someone else to take the lead.
…doesn’t take life too seriously and avoids getting too stressed out by driving. With one hand on the wheel at about one o’clock, they project a casual and confident vibe to other road users.
…also makes a pretty relaxed driver. They have one hand in the middle of the wheel which apparently shows they enjoy living life to the full. Popular with friends they enjoy thrill seeking in life.
…is another to forget what their driving instructor taught them. They put both their hands on the middle of the wheel. According to Ms Noor this shows they’re thoughtful and considered. They look at the bigger picture and are keen to avoid conflict.
The nervy one…
…holds the wheel at a quarter to three just like their driving instructor told them. However, unlike how they were taught, they cling onto the wheel for grim life. It shows they’re extremely anxious. But it’s not all on the negative side: they also make great friends and are very conscientious and thorough.
…drives with one hand on the centre of the wheel so they’re constantly ready to hit the horn. They’re busy and bossy and happy to push ahead with things and deal with any problems later on.
159 comments on “What does how you hold the steering wheel say about you?”
No. 1 for me the others should not be on the road
I drive at ten to two as taught 43 yrs ago
One thing I learned about holding the wheel is not to have the thumbs around the wheel as the right hand is shown in the first photograph here. I learned that when someone hit the front wheel of my car. That jerked the steering wheel and injured my right hand thumb. A police driving instructor told me that off-road drivers never wrap their thumbs around the wheel because driving into a hole of over a stone can have the same effect. I don’t know if that is true or not, since I am not an off-roader (not by choice, anyway). Since then I have my thumbs on top of the wheel. It is not an issue in controlling the car, and tends to mean one does not grip too tight.
No. 1 is the safe & correct way to drive
Hopefully the majority of the above are never involved in an incident where instant steering reaction is needed. Not a problem if travelling at 10mph or less.
It as accurate
My position for driving is No.8, which you call The Nervy One. Actually it was the position I was taught when learning to drive…well modified a tad as I was told it should be 10 & 2 on a clock but my hands are more like just past 9 and just before 3 if using a clock face.
The label “Perfectionist” sounds as if such drivers are considered goody-goodies who think they are better than other drivers. No mention is made of the fact that the ten to two position is what motorists trained in advanced motoring, including Class 1 police drivers, are taught to do, because it is considered to be the safest driving position.
Forget “psychotherapy” quackery, driving should be done safely, with both hands on the wheel so that, in an emergency, you have control with the minimum of delay. Careless driving is an offence, both under the law and socially, and drivers who don’t drive carefully should not be allowed to drive – remember, we don’t have the right to drive a car, we only have a licence.
What’s that’s got to do about safety (Precision driving, handling a car should a sudden situation occur, ie skid, swerve, tyre blow, potholes, etc.
If your driving instructor told you to hold the wheel like the top picture they were wrong. Hit a kerb and you can easily dislocate you thumb or tear the ligaments. I know I have done it –
Your Spot on! Yes, I AM a Minimalist!
Mmm what about 1 – 7 or 2- 8 or a relaxed 9&3
That’s what I was looking for. Because that’s how I feel the most relaxed and confident while driving.
Number 1 is not quite the perfectionist. The thumbs should not be wrapped round the steering wheel, they should lay straight on the wheel.
I’m not any of the 9, I drive with right hand around 2-o clock and left hand around 7-o clock that must mean I’m a superb, safe, driver Ha Ha
Very interesting – which one is the road rage driver?
I seem to be a mixture of three – according to my journey, local or longer distance.
Whilst I hold the wheel at quarter to three, I would say I was nervous. This position gives maximum strength, balance, comfort and easy reach to other controls. F1 drivers all use it.
Got mine right No 2.
Mmm… Very interesting… For a number of years I was a member of Institute of Advanced Motorists.(as a magistrate sitting in judgement on other peoples driving I felt that I should set a good example!)
Consequently I chose position 1 as my driving position and encouraged my clients to do the same.
It’s scary to see drivers with only one hand in ‘control’ of the steering wheel! It’s a bad habit to get into and may result in serious injury or worse for the the driver, passengers and/ or other road users.
when driving i have my hands in position 3 as a relaxed courteous mode
the 10 to two position as nowadays taught seems to promote an aggressive attitude
The first one. It was the one my A A instructor advised
Number 5 for me. Habit- 50 years of lorry driving!
Like to see you do it without power assisted steering! I drove truck and coach for over 30yrs. There’s a reason for ten to two!
No 1, How I was taught by driving instructor. Sat test age 38 and passed the month before giving birth to our third child.
john Howcroft number one for lifetime artic driver
No.1 for me, how I was taught serving in the RAF.
Number 1 for me old school driver
1 for me 10 to 2
Hi Mr Jones. I’m probably over sensitive to safety issues relating to motor vehicles. I’m a Forensic Vehicle Examiner (collisions) with Cheshire Police for over 30 years and still counting. I thought drivers would now emulate the driving positions to show they are cool and so on, however, the article was still interesting nevertheless.
Number 1 for me.
Number for me.
After 50 of car/lorry and bus driving
You should never put your thumbs through the steering wheel as if you have a blow out or hit a hole in the road, the stereing wheel may jerk one way or the other & could break your thumbs. This would put danger to your ability to hold the vehicle in a safe manner.
i am 85 and have been driving since i was 18 . i was a coach driver and adopted the minimalist style then and have kept it ever since I find it relaxing
number 3 for me,taxi driver for 20 years now
No 1 for me. If i didn’t my driving teacher used to rap my hand with a pen
No wonder is it that there are too many fatal accidents involving lorries- this spells arrogance to other road users.
No.1 for me. Always have done.
No 1 for me after 30years of bus driving also Hercule Poirot got it right in one of his series and he NEVER gets it wrong, !!!
Number one for me as I believe its safer for Control Of the Vehicle
Being A motorcycle enthusiast for 50 years & holding both hands on the HandleBARS
has ingrained it in my car driving keeping both hands on the steering wheel
what a load of old codswollop. ten to two is the safe and proper way to hold the steering wheel, any think else is down right dangerous and totally unsafe.
!0 to 2 just like we were told by our driving instructor
Number 1 for me, NATURALLY, free demos` every time I go out!
no 1 for me
No 1 for me learnt to drive sixty years ago
They didn’t do 2.40
That’s for cool cats!
Number 1 for me ! Early learner driver!!
Because of a disability I use an approved Easy Steer Rotating Knob positioned at 2 o’clock.
always driven at 10 to 2 position
I’m nearly ‘a perfectionist’ but quarter to three feels a bit more comfortable. After 57 years of driving I’m unlikely to change!
No 1.How I was taught and also comfortable.
No 1 is the way I drive , habit of a life time
I did an advanced driving course and was told that on no account should we put our thumbs round the steering wheel in case the wheel suddenly was wrenched out of our hands in a possible accident. I notice in the perfect position, the thumbs were locked round the wheel.
I’m a minimalist apparently.
I’v been driving for 56 years and watch everything going on around me but I do it in a relaxed way and have a clean license too. I’m a quick driver but stick to speed limits. Twenty four years as a Magistrate I suppose. I saw the result of people driving too fast, especially in built up areas and the sadness it brought.
SPEED LIMITS ARE THER FOR A REASON. TO SAVE LIVES!
Don’t be a moron! Good drivers stick to the speed limits.
Not sure just how accurate this is
Got me in one
Number 5 for me ..good likeness in description,not sure if that’s good or bad
Yep, definitely No. 5 for me.
No. 3- that’s how my instructor taught me in 1964 but it also means my shoulders are down and relaxed and I can rest both elbows on a long drive on the centre console and drivers door grab handle
Number 5, bad habit 30 years European truck driving.
Number 1…….35 yrs driving.
Number one, I was a police driving instructor until retired in 2000
I hold my wheel at 20 to 2
You should never drive one handed if you hit a pothole you will probably lose control and crash
Position 1 – The 10 to 2 is now officially deemed to be dangerous if the car has driver airbags.
It causes the driver to incur some terrible injuries if the airbags are deployed.
This old guidance was created before airbags were common.
Number 1 the way I was taught
Number 1 – Proud to be a MIAM
i jump from 2 to 3
No 1 for me except that you show the thumbs wrapped around the steering wheel whereas they should be pressed on it lightly.
Former Chief Driving Examiner at a Police Driving School for a period of 6 years.
No. 8 is the one to use now-a-days because anywhere else will break your wrists when the airbag goes off.
Number 1 for me after 67 years of safe driving.
number 2 for round town changing gear a lot on long journeys its no 3, which doesn,t much now due to pandemic, but its surprising how you forget the way you hold the steering wheel when in side it just comes autumatically.
Number 1 as I like to have two hands on the steering wheel
No.1 – the safest. Taught by police instructors for good reasons. Maximum control, always ready to respond to any situation. Good control in a sudden tyre failure. Driving can be enjoyable, but it’s not a game, and correct hand positions help to keep the mind on the job.
No 1 for me driving for 10 years now.
Well I knew I was a perfectionist but didn’t know how driving my car reflected it!!
I never ever drive with one hand in the centre. Other than that, I usually combine a mixture of all of the other poses.
number one every time
Definitely a Diplomatic driver…always aware of other drivers my caution
Number 1 for me, that was how I was taught 54 years ago and it works well for me.
Number one for me, old school. How my dad taught me.
Number 5 for me
Depends where I am driving
Brian Jones. No 1. after an accident, and after a defensive driving course.
I passed the IAM test using method 1 Safest way to drive !
No. 1 for me but I am far from being a perfectionist! Just, hopefully, prepared for any eventuality, especially a tyre blowout.
Combination of 2 and 5 here.
But one missed out: any of the above but with the thumb(s) on top of the wheel next to the fingers, not curled round the back: Either (a) Rally Driver or (b) has been taught by e.g. a police driver it’s the safest way to grip.
Do it! With your thumbs curled round, if you hit something, you will tear your thumb ligaments and may not be able to use them again. Or, if your front wheels hit something and jerk the steering wheel, again you’ll hurt your thumbs badly
I hold mine at 2.40, you don’t have that one but that is what i was taught 35 years ago!!
Seems like a missed opportunity to point out the dangers of holding the wheel incorrectly. If your hand(s) is in the wrong place and that airbag goes off, you can get broken wrists to add to any other troubles.
Mostly number one for me, but sometimes number five and sometimes number eight, think it depends on my mood at the time! Been driving for 47 years now. Delivery driver and taxi driver in the past, glad I’m not now though!!
No.1. Not surprised there are so many R.T.C’s if people can’t even hold the steering wheel correctly.
“2 and 5, ex lorry and bus driver..
I drove buses and coaches for 10 years and class 1 H.G.V. for 40 years and am proud of my good driving record
Number 2 for me. An old chap once told me that by holding the wheel at 10 to 2, it prevented him from having an accident as he could hold the car steady – that advice has stuck with me for 40 years.
I’m a Speed watch volunteer for the police. I’ve noticed that most of the speeding drivers we clock are no.5. With a coffee in the other hand…
PAS has alot to answer for.
Your right there, pre PAS some cars needed some muscle.
My comfortable position is number one but i don’t really think about it to be honest.
Number 1 for me. the light grip at 10 to 2 is less tiring as you have an equal weight resting on the wheel. One hand on one side means you have to “carry” your arm so any relaxation means you can drift off of line.
Number 1 for me been driving 45 yrs
No 1.Wife says I’m not holding it properly !! She should know
Hmm, with airbags, the traditional ten to two is potentially dangerous and can result in broken wrists, or even the horrendously sounding ‘degloving’ and twenty past eight is a safer option. Even more so if you don’t actually grasp the steering wheel, but rest your palms on it and don’t curl your fingers all the way round.
Number 1 – best for operating paddles ! And most comfortable.
No 1 for me , most of the time.
No. 1 Institute of Advanced Drivers trained, once trained never forgotten
Number 1 for me
Number 5 for me too, 43 years HGV Driver.
None of them. How about one hand on 2, the other on 7?! What does that say about me!
I am number one as an ex Pilot I stick to the rules. Also one Traffic Officer said to me that you are much less likely to be picked on by the Police if you patiently sit at 65-70mph left hand lane on the M6 with your hands on 10 to 2 ….that’s the truth !
Number 1. Way I was taught by Driving Instructor
Cross between no 2 and no 5.
This has nothing to do with driving safely. You are taught 10 to 2 for a reason.
I drive using 3 of the examples,what does that imply?
Every one has their thumbs wrapped round the wheel. The IAM teaches keep thumbs out of the wheel.
In the days before power steering position 1 ten to two was considered to be the safest way and being taught to drive in a one ton Humber truck with no power steering or synchromesh some fifty eight years ago I have found this still to be true
it all depends on where or the type of driving; if driving locally through the city 1; when out on a long run, motorway driving, and depending on traffic/conditions..2/3. too many variables for a complete accurate answer.
first one for me.
I try to do one, but I have my own adhoc approach, which is to hold the wheel in various positions, depending on circumstances – to allow using other car controls as little as possible, since the car positioning and speed reflect on your concentration demands – ie the faster you go, the greater the need to concentrate.
I try to relax when I feel I hold the wheel too tightly. I believe my reaction times would be better in an emergency if relaxed. I try to concentrate on always doing everything properly.
Sometimes hand positions are variable so it’s not a fixed formula as implied
Lohani Noor clearly has never been required to drive at very high speed as pursuit drivers, advanced trained as police officers.
It only by using the ‘perfectionist’ that the driver is in fully control at all times. With this style no matter how sharp the turn the drivers always in control.
That is not possible with any other style, and is the cause of untrained, inexperienced drivers losing control at speed, in the wet, on ice and snow causing accidents, injuries and fatalities.
When you’ve dealt with many deaths and injury accidents, and had to inform relatives you remember why Roadcraft, the police driver’s manual insists on Perfection.
All others styles are born of laziness and ignorance.
To give them fancy names may be appropriate for a psychotherapist, but think about having to walk to a home and tell the family that their close relative has just been killed. Then you can consider whether lesser standards are acceptable.
Only ‘perfectionist’ is 100% safe, any other would fail even the basic driving test.
More to the point, how do move your hands when turning? My driving instructor’s warning to “feed” the wheel while holding your hands on it is something I still remember after all these years. Though it is tempting just to rotate the wheel with the palm of a hand…
as an x driving instructor No 1 for me
1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Depending on time of day weather and road conditions.
I’ve noticed that the “cool dude” one-hand-on-top-of-the-wheel position is almost always the one used by tailgaters.
Number 1 but with thumbs on top
Personally all the one handed driver should be described as careless, inconsiderate overconfident dangerous drivers. I speak as a past driving instructor.
I was taught to hold the steering wheel at 10to2. BUT with the thumbs running along the steering wheel. Not the grip as if you are grabbing the wheel with both hands……….
keep your arms slightly bent, not with your elbows resting on the wheel. (you are too close to the steering wheel)
You need room to use that steering wheel quickly in an emergency. your reflex will be slow if you are crammed against the wheel.
No 1 for me. Thats how my insructor taught me. Never forgot how.
I have been driving for over 60 years and still feel confident,
I have heard that air bags in steering wheels have altered the way we should place our hands on the steering wheel. Is that true?
Pic.number one is me!
number 3 for me as I tend to angle the back even though not too tall. It’s the most comfortable for me.
No 1 Taught to drive by a police driving instructor. Did the lot, driving in snow, on ice, driving at speed. A lo of lessons learned as he sat relaxed when I did stupid things. Would turn to me and say “Won’t do that again will you?!. Eternally grateful to Bill. I still hear him talking to me when in an awkward situation. Probably saved my life more than once – and that was over 50 years ago.
No 1 40years with blue light driving
Number 1. Ex driving instructor never lost the habit.
Number 1 is me I was proud of my self passing my Advance class one driving skills with the Ambulance service and my HGV class one. I’ve never forgot my training.
Definitely number 3. I have been driving for over 48 years and I am very proud of my driving record.
No.1 for me. 60 years trouble free driving. Thanks to BSM teachers!!
Number one the most dangerous position ever
I always thought you should have your thumb on the rim off the wheel, not on the inside. I am a 1 by the way.
I have been driving for over 63 years and it is still the No 1 for me!
A pupil from the police advanced motor cycling and car driving courses so mine’s deliberately at ten to two!
Not sure what I can be called, I’ve probably drove with all those holds after been a bus and hgv driver for 40 years
Number 1. I have been a vehicle dynamics & test engineer for over 40 years. Position 1 is the only way to control a vehicle adequately in an emergency. It is also the method taught by the police and advanced driving schools.
I’ll opt for number 5
i hold my wheel at 25 to 2 what does that mean about me old army wagon driver
number 1 for me
The adventurer, the diplomat and the bulldozer walk into a dentist’s
“How did you lose your front teeth?” Asked the dentist
“Well we were driving along and all of a sudden there was a bang….”
50 years ago I was taught by a police driving instructor to use the 10 to 2 position, but not to loop the thumbs round the wheel rim. His reasoning: in a collision if the car spins the wheel will break both thumbs.
I have invariably driven with hands holding the wheel in the “10 and 2” position, as instructed. During 66 years of driving a car experience teaches it provides optimum control, especially in emergency situations as the handgrip tightens.
Trevor Massey, number 2 for me. After driving for 57 years like easy relaxed driving. Always buy automatics. Never us the horn. Never lose my temper. Most of the others drivers are not very bright so what can you why get upset!
Hi there my position in the steering is no.1.that’s how i was taught and never altered.
Definately No 1 after taking Advanced Driving Test!
My left hand is between 6 and 7 and my right hand between 1 and 2. What does that say about me?