retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

The website for my local news radio station reports that AAA and the National Highway Safety Administration have abandoned the time-honored recommendation for where to place your hands on the steering wheel.

“10 and 2” is no longer the recommended hand position. In its place we’re supposed to hold our hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. And some experts go so far as to suggest we should hold our hands at “8 and 4,” a position that would have cost me driving privileges back in the day when I though driving was a privilege.

Apparently, this is all being done for good reason and good health. Thanks to airbags, the old position can lead to all kinds of injuries if the bag deploys. MSNBC reported injuries ranging from broken fingers to losing a hand. There are even times a driver has suffered a broken nose as a hand or two flew into their face.

In fact, the driving gurus also suggest we re-learn how to hold our hands when turning to avoid crossing over the middle of the wheel. And this all makes sense, except for a few things.

• How is this news? Airbags are hardly new. In fact, when my oldest child started driving nine years ago she knew about this change and, of course, reminded me that I was holding the steering wheel incorrectly.

• How is this useful? Most young people today don’t even wear watches and tell time mostly on digital devices. So exactly what does 10 o’clock (or any other such number) say to people who have no need to know clock faces? Certainly there must be a more contemporary way to deliver this information. (Positions on a Starbuck’s cup perhaps?)

• Why does this matter? These days I’m delighted to see other drivers holding onto the steering wheel with a hand at all. Between the eating, reading, texting, shaving and more, driving frequently seems like a distraction to many.

But the bottom line is the old rule/guideline is gone and we probably are better off for it. Stuff just keeps changing and we have to change with it.
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