Depending how long you took driver’s education, you might recall being instructed to hold the steering wheel in a “10 and 2” position — just like the hands on a clock.

Thanks to airbags and changes in steering technology, that’s no longer the recommended position. Now,  traffic safety officials say drivers should hold the wheel at a “9 and 3” position instead.

The 10-2 position was taught for so long because  the higher grip enables a driver to keep the car running smoothly without needing to jerk the wheel suddenly if he is cut off or there is a hazard in the road, according to But doing it the old way could risk serious injuries to a driver’s hands or fingers if the airbag activates, as MSNBC recently reported.

AAA also recommends the “9 and 3” position, explaining in Guidelines for senior drivers that it enables “180-degree steering input without removing your hands from the steering wheel;” “a high level of arm leverage and vehicle control;” and “an awareness of where the wheels are pointing and how to straighten them.

How should you grip the steering wheel?

Both hands should be placed out of the steering wheel on opposite sides.

Your grip should be firm, yet gentle.

Use your fingers instead of the palms of your hands and keep your thumbs up along the face of the steering wheel.

Never turn the wheel while gripping it from the inside.