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Q: My wife practically hugs the steering wheel when she drives, but I like to be far back from it. Which way is safer?

Michael says....
The steering wheel is like that piping hot coffee in the morning: great when you need it, but a real hazard when it unexpectedly ends up in your face or lap. A rapidly inflating air­bag can kill a driver sitting too close to the wheel, as can a collision between your cranium and the surface of the steering wheel. Whether your wheel’s equipped with an air­bag or not, further is better. Advanced driving schools generally recommend that an arm’s out position is best for both safety and control, with a slight kink in the elbows ideal when holding the wheel at the three and nine o’clock positions. Power-operated pedals are now appearing on more cars and SUVs, and these help to keep shorter drivers clear of the steering wheel by easing the need to move the seat forward into potential harm’s way.

Michael Bettencourt test drives more than 100 new vehicles a year and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Email him with your car questions at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it