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The Hidden Dangers Of Steering Wheel Injuries You Need To Know

Last updated: December 29, 2023

Car accidents can leave people with lasting injuries from many causes, including damage from safety belts or striking the dashboard or steering wheel. Steering wheels commonly cause severe bodily harm during the forceful impact from crashes. A powerful blow can cause trauma to the chest, head, or other body parts depending on the speed and intensity of the force. The damage may not be apparent immediately; therefore, seeking medical care after striking the steering wheel is vital. Understanding and practicing safe steering methods can reduce the risk of life-threatening or fatal injuries. Speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to learn more about steering wheel injuries.

What Causes Steering Wheel Injuries?

The steering wheel can suddenly and forcefully impact different parts of the body, causing severe and life-changing injuries. Motorists can also sustain injuries from gripping the steering wheel too tightly or sitting in an awkward position at the time of a collision.

Steering Wheel Injuries

Thoracic or steering wheel damages involve blunt, forceful, and penetrating trauma. The damage often occurs when a person’s chest strikes the steering wheel. Other common injuries include the following:

  • Severe facial and mouth trauma, including facial fractures or a broken nose or teeth.
  • Internal bleeding and organ damage, including collapsed lungs.
  • Crush injury of the larynx or cervical trachea.
  • A concussion or traumatic brain injury.
  • Broken ribs.
  • Hand or wrist injuries.

Arm pain is typical after accidents and results from soft tissue injuries involving tendons or joints or from muscle strains from bracing the steering wheel for an impact.

Steps to Prevent Steering Wheel Injuries

Drivers can employ several techniques to avoid suffering steering wheel injuries during car crashes. These include gripping the steering wheel by placing hands opposite each other at a 180-degree angle. Keeping hands in this position allows for the smooth and comfortable operation of the vehicle.

Steering Wheel Hand Position and What You Need to Know

Steering wheel design has changed dramatically, leading to updated hand position recommendations. According to statistics of the National Highway Safety Administration, steering technique errors are the most significant cause of vehicle crashes. One of the administration’s steering updates includes hand placement on the wheel. The driver should place his or her left hand at the nine o’clock position and right hand at three o’clock, rather than at 10 and two. Other guidance includes:  

  • Drivers must grip the steering wheel firmly but gently. 
  • Motorists should place both hands on the outside of the wheel on opposite sides.  
  • Turning while gripping the steering wheel from the inside of the rim is a driving hazard.  
  • Control the steering wheel with fingers rather than with the palms, and keep thumbs in an upward position.

Three primary safe steering wheel methods can provide motorists with comfortable and steady vehicle steering control.

Hand-to-Hand Steering

The hand-to-hand steering method, also called push-and-pull steering, is the preferred position for safety. The person moves his or her left hand between the seven and eight o’clock positions and the right between the four and five o’clock positions. One hand pushes the steering wheel up while the opposite grabs the wheel and pulls down.

Hand-Over-Hand Steering

Hand-over-hand steering is best for specific maneuvers, including parking and turning at low speeds. The vehicle operator uses both hands to move the wheel while releasing one hand at a time to reach across the wheel and pull the steering wheel over the top. 

One-Hand Steering

While keeping both hands on the wheel is essential, there are times when the driver must shift gears or turn on windshield wipers, headlights, or blinkers. The opposite hand should remain at nine or three o’clock when removing one hand from the wheel. Drivers must never use one-hand steering techniques because of distractions. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, manual distractions involve the driver removing a hand from the steering wheel for a purpose such as eating or drinking. This action significantly increases the risk of a vehicle collision.

Meet With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

Steering wheel harm, including trauma to the chest or head, may not be apparent immediately. Therefore, seeking care from a medical professional after forcefully striking the steering wheel during an accident is crucial. It is typical for the body’s adrenaline rush or fight-or-flight reaction during a vehicle collision to increase a person’s pain threshold and mask the full extent of bodily injuries. Seeing a doctor can help identify less visible injuries that could lead to catastrophic consequences without care. Call to schedule a consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer to learn more about preventing severe steering wheel injuries.

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