By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Monday, August 21, 2023
Walking or driving down Jetty Road at Glenelg on a warm summer’s evening, you’re bound to see several drivers with one hand on the wheel, window wound down and their other arm resting on the edge of the car.
Apart from keeping your arms, and all other parts of your body in the car (we’ll cover that another day), is driving one-handed illegal? Read on to find out.
Is it legal to drive with one hand?
While it isn’t technically illegal to drive with only one hand on the wheel, it isn’t recommended. There are times when you might have to remove a hand from the wheel. For example, if you need to adjust the air-conditioning or change gears when driving a manual car. As soon as that task is completed, return your hand to the steering wheel. Both hands should remain on the wheel to ensure you have full control in the event of an emergency.
However, if you’re driving one-handed and are seen to not have proper control of your vehicle, you could receive a $215 fine and $99 Victims of Crime Levy. Most Australian states have a similar rule, so no matter where you are, it’s best to keep your hands at the nine o’clock and three o’clock position while driving.
Driving with one hand can also mean you’re driving distracted from the road. If you’re fiddling with the radio, trying to find a particular station, or drinking your morning cup of coffee, then your full attention isn’t on driving.
Driving with one hand
If you are seen to not have proper control of your vehicle, you could receive this fine, plus a $99 Victims of Crime Levy.
The dangers of driving one-handed
Apart from not having proper control of your vehicle, driving one-handed can also be dangerous for another reason.
If you have one hand resting on top of the steering wheel and you’re involved in a crash, the force of the airbag can send your hand into your head, breaking your wrist (and maybe your nose) in the process.
Nine and three or 10 and two?
If you started driving before airbags were commonplace, it’s likely you were told that you should have your hands at the 10 o’clock and two o’clock position on the steering wheel.
With most, if not all, new cars, now having airbags, it’s recommended motorists position their hands at the nine o’clock and three o’clock positions with your thumbs placed along the rim of the wheel instead of looping around it.
The reason? As we mentioned above, the wrong hand position can be dangerous. In this case, a crash and the deployment of the airbag can send your hands at the top of the wheel into your head, and even break your thumbs.