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Steering knob illegality: Internet myth?


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#1 Orpheus

Orpheus

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:16 PM

Everywhere you look on the internet, you read references to steering wheel knobs (aka granny knob, steering spinners, necker knobs [a hotrod term alluding to their use in necking while driving] Brodie or suicide knobs] being illegal "in most states" with laws "often varying by county or town, if not regulated by state."

Even retail sites and informational sites like autos.com claim this (and claim that they may only be legal for construction vehicles or disabled drivers]. The one thing that all these claims have in common is a lack of legal citation. I've been considering getting these for my parents for some time, but several searches over a period of years have failed to turn up even a single state where they are illegal.

Everyone suggests asking your local police, but they they generally haven't studied law and are not immune to urban legend -- to the point of actually *enforcing* them. As a teen, I was ticketed for driving in flip-flops (more accurately, "unsafe driving" and questioning the officer's assertion), and the local police were *still* cautioning local teenagers years after I successfully appealed it -- but the prosecutor warned me that the officer could've claimed other "unsafe driving" had inspired his traffic stop, had he known better.

For at least a couple of years in the 80s, this was a FAQ in the MA student driver manual, but it, too, went on to say that while there was no law against it, an officer might find that unsafe driving resulted (and that town's local police still sporadically pulls my parents over, fishing for ticketable offenses).

Recently I've seen sites refuting this "myth", like suicideknob.net which suggest my inability to find the law (primarily in MA, RI, NH) Massachusetts was more than a search failure. A local company that adapts cars for handicapped drivers confirmed there was no such law in New England -- and I trust them to have researched that issue due to the heavy legal liability they'd potentially face, even if their steering wheel mods were noncontributory.

Though the tide seems to be (slowly) turning on this legend, I was surprised how pervasive it was for such an easily checked "fact". What does your registry of motor vehicles say?


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