To pass the Q-SAFE: Practical Driving Test and get a provisional P1 licence (Red Ps) you should steer with both hands on the steering wheel (except when using other controls), using either the ‘hand-over-hand’ or ‘pull-push’ method with your hands on the outside of the steering wheel. That's the requirement for the Department of Transport and Main Roads. But what's the difference between the ‘hand-over-hand’ and ‘pull-push’ methods?
If you’ve never driven with an accredited driving instructor before, these methods have probably never been described to you. Your untrained supervisors (family and friends) most likely steer without reference to these techniques, in the way they feel is most comfortable. As such, you've probably been taught to steer in whatever manner has felt the most natural and comfortable (though this may be technically inappropriate). This highlights the importance of seeking professional driving lessons while learning to drive on your L plates so you can pass the Practical Driving Test.
For a quick visual explanation of the two methods and the differences, here is a short video featuring both techniques. The first 26 seconds shows the ‘pull-push’ method with the remainder of the video showing the ‘hand-over-hand’ method.
The debate about which method offers greater safety and control is far from conclusive. As such, this post will not get into the reasons each technique is believed to be the best. Instead, we recommend that you:
- Watch the video above so you understand both methods
- Practice both techniques while driving in a controlled environment to get a feel for each
- Consult with a professional driving instructor about the technique they recommend and ask them questions about both techniques
- Decide on a technique based on which you feel gives you the most comfort and control while driving
NOTE: A different steering method to the one you’re comfortable with will likely feel awkward when you begin to test. This shouldn’t immediately prevent you from choosing an alternate. Be sure to thoroughly test both methods before you make a final decision.
Despite what others may say about the two techniques, the most important factor is that you feel comfortable and in control while driving - because feeling uncomfortable and lacking control is far more likely to lead to an accident, regardless of whether you're using the ‘hand-over-hand’ or ‘pull-push’ method.