California Driver Handbook - Safe Driving Practices
Always signal when turning left or right, changing lanes, slowing down, or stopping. Signaling lets other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians know your intentions.
Signals may be given by hand-and-arm positions or using the vehicle’s signal lights. If bright sunlight makes the signal lights hard to see, also use hand-and-arm signals.
|LEFT TURN||RIGHT TURN||SLOW OR STOP|
Motorcyclists often use hand signals to make themselves more visible. Bicyclists may give right turn signals with their right arm held straight out, pointing right.
- During the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point (left or right turn).
- Before every lane change. Check your mirrors, look over your shoulder, and check your blind spot before changing lanes.
- At least 5 seconds before you change lanes on a freeway.
- Before pulling next to the curb or away from the curb.
- When you change directions.
- Even when you do not see other vehicles. A vehicle you do not see may suddenly appear and hit you.
- If you plan to turn beyond an intersection. Start signaling when you are in the intersection. If you signal too early, the other driver may think you plan to turn into the intersection and they may pull out in front of you. Remember to cancel your signal after turning.
Recommendations for steering control and hand positions differ from vehicle to vehicle based on the size, age, speed, and responsiveness of the vehicle. While there is no one correct hand position or way to steer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided some basic guidelines.
If you think of the steering wheel as the face of a clock, place your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, or slightly lower at 8 and 4 o’clock. To reduce face, arm, and hand injuries in the case of a deployed air bag, you should grip the outside of the steering wheel, with your knuckles on the outside of the wheel, and your thumbs stretched along the rim.
Controlling the Vehicle
There is no one correct way to steer a vehicle safely, but here are a few steering methods recommended by NHTSA:
- Hand-to-Hand Steering–This steering method may also be called “push/pull” steering. Using this steering method, your hands do not cross over the face of the steering wheel, and therefore there is less chance of injury to your face, arms, or hands in the event of an air bag deploying. When using this method, start with your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, or slightly lower at 8 and 4 o’clock. Depending on the direction you are turning, one hand will push the wheel up, and the opposite hand pulls down.
- Hand-Over-Hand Steering–This method of steering can be used when turning at low speeds, parking, or recovering from a skid. When using this method, start with your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, or slightly lower at 8 and 4 o’clock. Depending on the direction you are turning, one hand will push the wheel up, while the other hand will let go, reach across the other arm, grasp the wheel, and pull up.
- One Hand Steering–NHTSA recommends using one-hand steering only when turning while backing, or operating vehicle controls that require removing a hand from the steering wheel. The only time that a 12 o’clock hand position is recommended is when backing a vehicle while turning, as the driver must turn in their seat to see the path of the vehicle. The placement of hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 o’clock, or slightly lower at 8 and 4 o’clock, is critical to vehicle balance.