Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Most of us probably take airbags for granted, but it was only in 1998 that the federal government made them mandatory in passenger cars. According to a fact sheet published by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2013, frontal airbags have saved an average of 2,336 lives annually between 2008 and 2012. They’re an engineering marvel that have made a real difference in safety on the road.

But, driving a car with a steering-wheel airbag does require updating an old-school habit. If you’re still using the “10 o’clock and 2 o’clock” position, it’s time to change.

Slide those hands down the wheel a bit

NHTSA now recommends moving the hands down the wheel to the “9 o’clock and 3 o’clock” position. Here’s why.

When your airbag is triggered, super-hot nitrogen gas fills the bag, forcing open the plastic cover on your steering wheel. The bag then expands toward you at 150-250 mph. The higher your hands are on the wheel, the more likely they are to be over that plastic cover—and the more likely they are to be injured when it blows open.

A driver otherwise protected by the airbag can suffer a broken nose or concussion caused by the hand being blasted into the face, finger or hand amputation, fracture, or a rather gruesome and very graphically-named injury called “de-gloving.”


9 and 3 strikes a reasonable balance between driving safety (hands in a good position to control the car), and injury avoidance if the airbag goes off (hands out of the way of the cover).



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  1. Maybe the moderator will post the story link referencing the female passenger bent in half due to having feet on the dash during a recent low speed crash. The description of her injuries should whack that smart ass tone right out your kisser if you had any compassion.

  2. I like that response, TG. They are regulating so many things now that are ‘good for us’ as if we don’t have the sense to figure out what is and isn’t. Sometimes, they use that as an excuse to control our lives and make us do what they want us to do, as you know. Sometimes, I wonder how ‘free’ we are. We do have a lot of freedoms, but a lot of them have been taken away by the government under the guise of protecting us.

  3. Boy, I’m really glad Big Brother settled that. This issue bothered me and was staying awake at night worrying about it. Now I will stay awake nights wondering how long before the DOT demands a federal law for all drivers directing us where to put our hands on the steering wheel. This law would be justified since it is for our own good.

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