According to esure, two million drivers have had an accident, or near accident while driving with just one hand. An academic report that came out in April of 2012 showed that driving with two hands is better than driving with one hand. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises you to place your hands at the nine o’clock and three o’clock positions for the safest driving position. There are many instances where we may find ourselves with one hand on the wheel - including having food and beverages in our hand.
Here are some things to know about safety while driving with one hand on the wheel:
The study above, done in 2012, showed that those who were eating behind the wheel had decreased reaction times of 44 percent. If the reason you are driving with one hand is because you are eating, this is dangerous because if a car suddenly stops in front of you, it will take you nearly twice as long to stop then if you had both hands on the wheel.
The study also showed that those who were drinking a beverage behind the wheel were 18 percent more likely to have poor lane control. If you are sipping on water or soda, you may notice it is hard to stay in the center of the lane. This can be hazardous if a vehicle is attempting to pass you and you accidentally swerve into their lane.
The nine and three position is now the norm for hand placement because of air bags. Air bags deploy when the vehicle is in an accident, and are designed to keep you from hitting the steering wheel and the dashboard. Once the air bags open, the plastic cover pops off. If your hands are too high on the wheel, the plastic could injure you when it blows open. Therefore, keep both hands at nine and three to minimize the potential for injury.
According to the NHTSA, front air bags have saved about 2,336 lives every year from 2008 to 2012, so they do make a difference when it comes to safety. To further keep yourself safe, keep both hands firmly planted on the wheel at the nine and three position.
Driving with one hand is not a good idea because you do not have as much control of the vehicle then if you were driving with two hands. In addition, driving with one hand while eating or drinking, is even more of a hazard. The correct hand position is now at nine and three to keep yourself safe in the case of an accident. While many people find themselves driving with one hand at times, there is slightly more risk for accident than driving with two hands. Overall, make sure you are always aware of the road to ensure safety.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is it Safe to Drive With One Hand? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.