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It's not rocket science, but it is science. Physics, to be exact.

With the hands as far from each other as possible, they form a wider, more stable base. If you hold the wheel any higher or lower, gravity would make the grip be much less stable.

It's like gripping a motorcycle's bars. Holding them on both sides is much more stable than holding them near the center. It's more stable that way.

It can also be described this way: The further one hand is from the other, the better they balance each other (due to the bigger leverage). The closer they are (if you hold the wheel high) makes them function like one big hand rather than two hands.

The extreme is locating both hands together at the top of the wheel, which undoubtedly not stable. Holding the wheel at ten and two is just like that, only less extreme.

It is in no way a matter of comfort or personal preference. 9 to-3 is OBJECTIVELY preferred over any other kind of grip. Holding the wheel slightly above or below this height is relevant only in extreme circumstances, like when the driver has an unusual stature (too short, too skinny) or if there is something unusual about the shape or size of the steering wheel or the sitting position in general.

Once upon a time, steering wheels were much wider and this meant that when holding the wheel at 9 and 3, the hands were spread too far apart, because the wheel was wider that most people shoulder width, so people used to hold the wheel higher.

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