I’ve been driving wrong for a very long time.

What I learned in driver’s ed in high school many moons ago is no longer accurate. It took my mom going to a senior driving class for both of us to be re-educated.

Learning to reposition hands while driving. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

No longer are we supposed to hold the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Instead, the recommendation is for hands to be at 4 and 8.

“This is the preferred method of steering. Two and 10 o’clock is not recommended because it can be dangerous in vehicles with smaller steering wheels and equipped with air bags,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That’s exactly what mom was taught, and then shared with me.

I tried it. Wow, did it ever feel awkward. At first it didn’t seem like I had the same control at 4 and 8 as I do at 10 and 2. I said I just couldn’t change what has been ingrained in me since I first got my license at age 16. But I’m still trying. I can’t argue with the logic behind this new hand positioning. I figure if mom can change, and she’s been driving a lot longer than me, then I can change.

With the NHTSA and the CHP (there was an officer at mom’s class) and others are saying 4 and 8 are the way to go, well, I better just get used to it.

Also part of mom’s class was an aggressive driver assessment. My score today would not have been what it was in my 20s or even probably my 30s. I got the best—“cool customer”—you are polite and don’t take the actions of other discourteous drivers personally.

The only “bad” thing I do often is brake suddenly to punish a tailgater.

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