Ask a Trooper: Proper position of hands while driving

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Question: The drivers training manual says to have both hands on the steering wheel. First it was “two and ten” and now with airbags they say “nine and three.”  The question, is it a law that you must have both hands on the wheel?  I have never seen that as a law and if so there sure would be a lot of violations. I’m thinking if it is the manual, it must be a law.

Answer: There is not a law requiring both hands be on the steering wheel or what position they are to be in when operating a motor vehicle. The Minnesota driver’s manual provides a suggestion for vehicles equipped with airbags. They suggest you keep your hands on the 8 and 4 o’clock or 9 and 3 o’clock positions — avoid the 10 and 2 o’clock position. Keep your thumbs turned out on the steering wheel. Try to maintain at least 10 inches between yourself and the steering wheel. Front passenger seats should be moved as far back as possible. Read your operators manual before driving or riding in a vehicle equipped with airbags. For more information about the use of seat belts, airbags, and car safety seats, visit the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Website at

Vehicles equipped with a manual transmission are going to require the driver to take one hand off of the steering wheel to shift gears. My suggestion is to keep both hands on the steering wheel as much as possible, your eyes to the road, constantly scanning the road, shoulders and ditches. I would also recommend checking your rearview and side mirrors often for approaching traffic.

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If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at,