Can good old Driver’s Ed hurt you? Adapting to Changing Times

Can you imagine punching your face with your own fist at 200 mph?  It can happen and hurt you very badly, especially if you drive like many of us do and the airbag goes off.

When do you stop listening to respected and published instructions and adapt to changing times?  Does the education system such as driver’s ed keep up with the changes in technology?  I am yet to see a widespread and effective sharing of the potential risks of holding the steering wheel inappropriately.

10 and 2 o'clock driving pose
10 and 2 o’clock Position

For the longest time, Driver’s Ed preached the correct position to place your hands on a steering wheel as the 10 and 2 o’clock position.  This is not a safe position when you are driving a car equipped with airbags.  The 10 and 2 o’clock position most likely will hurt your arms if the airbag deploys.  The more widely used positions such as the popular “relaxed arm” or the “intent double-handed grasp” can really hurt you even more.

New Habits for new times

With the advent of air bags, the safety instructions were primarily limited to their direct negative impact such as not wearing a seat belt or sitting too close to the airbag.  They may have also addressed the minimum distance of 10″ necessary between the surface of where the airbag deploys to your chest and face.

They did not, however, look at the typical driving postures of most drivers and caution or educate  them about the potential risks of driving in the two positions below.

12 noon Relaxed Position
Double Handed Grasp Position

Of the 100 people I surveyed over the last two years, not one was aware of the potential problem involving the airbag.  I would hope something as important as this would get widespread distribution at least to your loved ones to prevent unnecessary injuries.

Please take a moment to reflect on your own favorite driving posture and becoming keenly  aware of the potentially dangerous positions that you may assume when you are tired or not fully present while driving.  Make sure that your hands are firmly on the wheel while keeping them away from the path of the airbag.

Hands away from the airbag

Please share this with a friend or someone you care about.

Here is a classic situation where an established “good habit” may no longer be appropriate since there has been a fundamental change in the system, i.e., the introduction of a new safety device.  The irony in this situation is that the new safety device could very well be the cause of other injuries if we don’t modify our behavior.  Too many times, we tend to stick to our old habits even when they are no longer beneficial to us.

Be well,


“The key to a better life is to be aware in the life we live.”

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