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If You’re Older Than Gen-Z, You’re Driving the Wrong Way


If you’ve noticed that since Covid people are driving more recklessly, you’re not alone. According to a study quoted in FastCompany: “people are driving over 100 miles per hour 20% more often than pre-Covid-19. And accidents, when they do occur, are happening at faster speeds–a full 50% faster than usual.”

What I’ve noticed is not just more speeders, but more tailgating. Every time I’m on the highway, I see packs of cars in adjacent lanes, all separated by about a single car-length, even though they’re going 60-plus miles per hour. This is a pile-up waiting to happen.

Obviously, when the crazies hit the road (and I’ve noticed a fair number of the nutcases are flying flags), the sensible among us must drive more defensively. However, there’s a piece of expert advice about driving that actually puts you in greater risk of being seriously injured in a car wreck–the position of your hands on the steering wheel.

Unless you took Drivers Ed quite recently, you were probably told to hold your hands on the steering wheel at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Car-makers actively encourage this positioning. The 2016 Volkswagon Tiguan, for example, has special grips at 10 and 2 to encourage drivers to hold the steering wheel “correctly.”

Unfortunately, that advice dates from before air-bags became standard gear. You see, when you’re in any collusion serious collusion, your air-bag literally explodes from the center of the steering wheel. If you arms are in the way of the air-bag, they’ll likely be broken badly.

I know this from experience. Even as I type this, my right hand is in great pain because about a year ago, I broke both my arms in a car accident.. Because my right arm was in front of the steering wheel, the two bones in my upper arm were shattered, bending my arm into an “S” shape. (My left forearm was snapped near the elbow.)

Let me tell you, it’s no picnic having both arms in a sling. Even if you’re lucky enough to have family members to help you out, you’re virtually helpless. Also, if you’re lucky enough to recover, the pain of having your nerves grow back when your bones are encased in metal is truly mind-bending.

I’ve finally gotten back to touch-typing, which is good for me as a writer because voice recognition software basically sucks. Even so, every keystroke on my right hand feels like a hit on my funny bone. Each tap sends a shooting pain all the way up to my elbow. This is not fun, trust me.

I couldn’t figure out how my arm had gotten so bent up until I watched a recent-produced Drivers Ed with my Gen-Z daughter. The video explained that the safest way to hold the steering wheel is at  9 o’clock and 3 o’clock ,and turn the wheel by shuffling hands in alternation, so that your arm never get in front of the steering column.

If I had known that, the accident would have still be serious, but I likely wouldn’t have ended so seriously injured. So don’t make the same mistake I made, especially since the chances have gone up that you’ll get into a serious accident.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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