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For the new driver, in particular, someone who has never before sat in a driver’s seat and prepared for the learning process, steering can initially be extremely problematic.

In Australia, there are two accepted methods for steering a motor vehicle. Hand-Over-Hand and Pull-Push methods. The Hand-Over-Hand technique, usually employed to move the car quickly in a given direction, is decried by many trainers in the belief that its use leads inevitably to crossing of the driver’s arms and potential loss of control. If the driver is not prepared to, or sufficiently skilled in the fluid movement of the hands on the steering wheel, this can eventuate, however, it is important to understand that the name, Hand-Over-Hand, describes precisely what is required. The hands MUST move on the wheel, unlike those shown in the photos below:

Crossed Arms

arms crossed, right hand reversed

arms crossed, left hand reversed

arms crossed, left hand cramped & restricted from further movement

This driver’s hands are clearly fixed onto the steering wheel, incapable of movement should additional flexibility be required. This is not Hand-Over-Hand, it is effectively Arm-Over-Arm, and inherently dangerous.

In a correct Hand-Over-Hand manoeuvre the hands “walk” around the wheel, one hand moving over the other as the steering wheel is turned. In genuine Hand-Over-Hand steering, the driver’s arms never cross. Hands and wrists will pass under & over each other as both hands move past each other on the wheel. Ultimate flexibility is retained at all times.

In the Pull-Push technique, if, say, turning to the right, the right hand pulls the steering wheel down and to the right while the left hand mirrors that movement on the opposite side of the wheel without actually gripping the wheel. In other words, the left hand slides around the wheel in the opposite direction to the right. When both hands have moved approximately 90 degrees on each side of the wheel, the left hand then grips the wheel and pushes upward and to the right, while the right hand mirrors that movement by sliding upward and to the left to meet the left hand. See the graphic below:

note the alternating grip-slide action between both hands.

note the alternating grip-slide action between both hands.

This steering method is particularly favoured in Western Australia purely because it does not permit any meeting of either hands or arms on the wheel. However, this method does NOT permit quick and accurate steering should the need ever arise for an evasive manoeuvre, or tight, accurate steering in a small area. Neither steering technique can be said to be superior to the other. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Both should employed in the steering process on an as-needs basis in order that concise, efficient and accurate control of the vehicle is maintained at all times. A brief 7 minute video below shows quite clearly the action of both techniques in turning corners, negotiating roundabouts and performing U-turns.


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