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Master Driver

Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:38 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Well, after covering the basics of driving about seating position and mirror adjustment, as well as emergency stops and, out of interest of the users and possible misconceptions, I will now explain the correct manner to steer a car.

Well, the first thing we should ask in relation to steering habits is whether they make a difference or not? Well, yes they do! They crucially effect one's ability to control his car, and I have witnessed numerous cases where a better steering technique would save a skid or help avoid an object unavoided.

"But what about normal road driving?", well, steering habits are even more so important on the road! Race drivers use very little steering inputs, due to car design, track size, driving plan, etcetra. Rally drivers nowadays have to apply smaller steering inputs and control the car better with their feet and not the hands. A good steering habits in the tight modern metropoline, is going to releave much physical effort.

With this steering method, you will find car control to be much easier, and you will find out that thus far you have turned the wheel too much and with excessive effort!

How to hold the wheel
This same question was brought up before. Now I will deal with it in length, even though it belongs with our seating position. The correct hand position is 9 and 3: Both hands as far from each other, on both opposite sides of the wheel.

This gives you better control and is usually more comfortable. During long drives on open interstate roads, the hands might be replaced for short intrevals of time in a higher position, to releave certain muscles.

When you adopt 9 to-3, you will notice your hands have a greater range of motion (acutally up to 240 degrees with the forearms crossed). As a rule of thumb, whenever the direction of travel remains straight on, you keep your hands gripping the wheel and simply turn. You do the same when you perform avoidance braking.

When an actual corner is negotiated, a more complex hand work is applied. Instead of simply and mindlessly turning the wheel and finding yourself gripping the wheel in all sorts of awkward positions mid-corner, put in a bit of thought and rather predict the amount of steering you need to apply and change your hand positions before you turn the wheel, so that your hands are again in 9 and 3 after you turn.

Predicting the amount of steering input might be easier than you think. I will write a short guide according to the driving directions of the UK (left-hand driving).

1. Turning left at an intersection
When we turn left at an intersection, we take a wide turn. This turn takes about 90 degrees of steering. What we do is to place our left hand directly ontop of the wheel and keep the right hand stationary. The left hand than pulls the wheel from under the right hand untill it gets back to it's original position (3 O'Clock).

Now our hands are back at 9 and 3, so we can use both hands to make nessecary corrections. When we want to straighten back up, we do the opposite: We place our right hand ontop the wheel and pull it from under the left hand.

What's the advantage? When we pulls down (given that we do not pull under the 9 and 3 position), we utilize much more gentle muscles (arm, palm and finger muscles) which allow for a smoother, more percise, controlled and physically easier, than when we push and bring our strong upper-body muscles into body.

Additionally, we keep the 9 and 3 position for as long as possible. Even during the short intrevals of time when we locate our pulling hand and pull the wheel, the opposite hand is in control.

2. A right-hand corner
When we turn right at the same intersection, the corner is much tighter. Most corners we take (least ways, those I take Sad ) in town are such. For this corner, must cars will turn when the wheel is turned a full 180 degrees: The pulling hand (in this particular case, the right hand) is placed directly over the 180 degrees. The thumb can be hooked under the spoke of the wheel to pull it a full 180 degrees.

We than pull the wheel a full 180 degrees, steer through the corner with the hands at 9 and 3, and than relocate the opposite hand (left hand, in the above example), and pull the wheel back. The steering is smooth like before, but also somewhat quick and decisive, even if it is slippery.

In this particular case, there is another advantage of not splitting the steering input into several hand movements. With modern steering columns, this is much better. We always know where the front wheels are pointing and when the wheel is straight.

3. A tight corner and a U-Turn
Depending on the car and corner, some corners might require turning the wheel about 270 degrees. For this, your pulling hand is placed on the bottom of the wheel. The palm should be pointed upwards, effectivelly gripping the rim upside down. This might feel very odd at first, but it again allows to make tight corners in one accurate hand movement.

The steering input is again smooth but quite decisive. In this respect, say you find out while turning that you need to turn less, what do you do? You grip the wheel with the stationary hand and than slide the pulling hand back to it's position. See, full control of the wheel at all times!

A U-Turn requires to turn the wheel to the lock, which in most cars is reached by turning it one turn and a half (540 degrees). The hand is placed across the wheel and pulls 180 degrees. We than use the thumb on the spoke of the wheel and the palm on the rim to turn an extra 360 degrees. A whole U-Turn in two hand movements and with the hands at 9 and 3 for as long as possible, just like magic!

4. In the parking space
Often, when we park, particularly when we peroform parallel parking, speeds are around zero, therefore we can let ourselves do something which is considered dangerous on the road and that's to palm the wheel in a "wax on, wax off" motion Wink

Again, we use the same technique: We use the hand in the direction in which we turn the wheel (the pulling hand) and keep the opposite hand in contact with the wheel, allowing the fingers to controlably run under it.

In older cars, without powersteering, this particular case would require more complex steering habits, and that's the origin of many of the steering habits you witness as a learner.
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Joined: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 4
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:36 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Great post! I know I am guilty of the "one hand on 12" and even "one wrist on 12" steering. It's good to get a reminder of the proper way to steer.
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Site Admin

Joined: Jan 06, 2010
Posts: 485

PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:32 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Welcome here nofonzone... I think we're all guilty of a little cheating when it comes to steering! Anyway, nice to have you here Smile
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Joined: Sep 15, 2010
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:16 am Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for your information. What I wish to say is if your back end is going right, then you steer right and vice versa. this brings the rear end around so you are heading more or less straight..
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