Steering wheel knobs go by a lot of names. Technically, they’re called “Brodie knobs”. However, you might’ve heard them go by the name suicide knobs. Or, you might’ve heard of them as spinner knobs. Regardless of their name, a common myth seems to follow them around.
Steering wheel knobs are not strictly illegal in any of the 50 states. However, some states impose limitations on using them if their design poses a potential safety hazard such as catching on clothing.
Let’s take a closer look at why some states might take exception to steering wheel knobs, and what safety considerations there are for using them.
What States Are Steering Wheel Knobs Illegal In?
Steering wheel knobs are not illegal in any of the 50 states. Some cities or municipalities could have laws written against them. However, at the time of writing, we couldn’t find any evidence for that.
Michigan actually has written into their state law that they are legal!
Other states don’t have anything outlawing them.
The State of Washington does impose certain limitations on them. They’re not legal if they could catch on your clothes easily. To get around that, you can install them on the outside of the wheel.
You’ll see them on earth moving equipment and tractors a lot. They’re even found on forklifts in plenty of commercial settings. They let drivers use the steering wheel while only using a single hand.
Before installing one of them, check with your local laws. It’s possible that things are different in your area.
Why Are Steering Wheel Spinners Illegal
Despite the myths, steering wheel knobs aren’t illegal. OSHA regulations permit their use in all commercial settings. But, OSHA regulations only apply to the workplace.
The only state with any limitations on them would be Washington. They don’t let you use them if they’re able to latch onto your clothes.
That’s probably for the best, though!
There aren’t any federal laws outlawing them, either.
Back in the day, they were a lot more popular. That’s because most cars didn’t have power steering back then. Using a knob could feel a lot easier as a result.
Most cars have power steering now, and you don’t see as many steering knobs anymore.
You can actually buy them online if you’d like to use one. They make it possible to turn the wheel all the way around without letting go of the wheel. And, they’re fairly comfortable to use with only one hand.
Why Are Steering Wheel Knobs Dangerous?
Steering wheel knobs could still pose a danger, even if they’re not illegal. Improperly placed knobs could catch your clothes when you’re turning them.
If you get one, double-check how you install it. Otherwise, it might catch your clothes while turning. Then, you might not be able to rotate the steering wheel easily. That would put you in real danger.
Sit down with the knob on your wheel. Make sure the vehicle is in Park. Then, try rotating the wheel all the way around. If it doesn’t catch, then you’re good to go.
Knobs could also block your hand movement while you’re turning around. It’s not hard to avoid that, though. Just make sure to be careful whenever you’re turning sharply.
Some states actually require disabled drives to have them installed in their cars. That’s because the drivers can’t operate the vehicle using both hands without one of them.
Putting a knob on the wheel makes it a lot easier to fully turn the wheel. So, they’ve got to have them on the wheel to legally drive.
Regular drivers don’t need them to drive, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use them. They’re totally able to install them on their car without breaking the law.
If you’ve ever driven a forklift, you’ve probably used one of them before. A lot of commercial vehicles still have them. They’re not as popular on most cars anymore, though.
Power steering made it a lot easier to rotate the wheel without having one of them.
Dispelling the Myth Behind Steering Wheel Knobs
Go ahead and check the federal laws regarding driving. There’s nothing outlawing the use of a steering wheel knob. In fact, the law dictates that some drives must have them. If you’re disabled, you might need one of them to drive legally.
As far as state laws go, there’s not a lot on the record. The State of Michigan actually permits them according to their laws. They’ve just got to be clear of your clothing.
The State of Washington outlaws them if they’re able to catch onto your clothes. If not, then you can use them safely.
Steering wheel knobs have been around for a long time. They might not be as popular today, but they’re still around.