Is it illegal to drive one-handed?
Yes, the police can fine you for not having both hands on the steering wheel at all practical times.
So, while you’re okay to take one hand off to change gears or indicate, it isn’t okay to cruise down the highway with one hand out the window.
The NSW Road Users’ Handbook stipulates that, “When steering keep both hands on the outside of the steering wheel and thumbs along the rim”. You can check it on Page 71 here.
It’s worth noting you aren’t legally allowed to drive gripping the steering wheel from behind, as the rules across Australia stipulate that your thumbs should be along the rim of the wheel. This will also protect you in a crash from a potential shoulder dislocation.
Along with having both hands on the steering wheel it is crucial to remember that, Australia wide, it is illegal to drive with anything between you and the steering wheel, including food and reading material. It was only a few years ago that NSW focused attention on highlighting this law, specifying it is illegal to drive with a pet on your lap.
This link steps out that you’re up for between $425 and $531, and 3-4 demerit points, if you’re caught driving one-handed.
If you have been injured and don’t have use of your hands or arms, then it is worth checking with your GP or doctor to see if they consider you medically fit to drive. This can save potential headaches with the police, or insurance company should there be an investigation into a claim arising from a crash.
While we found this link to the NSW rules helpful most other states and territories don’t have similarly well laid-out information available.
Victoria tells you to check with a doctor before driving, while this legal blog backs up the belief your ability to drive has to be okayed by a doctor rather than a policeman or your local transport department.
This article is not intended as legal advice. You should check with your local road authority to verify the information written here is suitable to your situation before driving in this manner.