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Hollywood Steering

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As anyone with even the most basic driving experience can attest to, steering adjustments are only made to keep the vehicle aligned with the road, which means that on a straight or mostly straight road, these adjustments are very discreet and not especially frequent. In many TV shows and films, however, characters are often shown moving the steering wheel frequently and rapidly to either side, even when not engaged in a heated car chase, behavior which, in practice, would cause the vehicle to swerve all over the road in a zigzag pattern.

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The reason behind this trope could be that the actor and/or the director want to communicate to the audience that the character is indeed driving, as opposed to sitting in a stationary vehicle with a green screen in the background, although considering that most of the viewing public probably has a practical understanding of driving, this might have the opposite effect.

Technologically, this trope also has its roots in the recirculating ball steering mechanisms of yesteryear's cars, which are much more powerful than rack-and-pinion steerings but have a "dead spot" where a small turn of the steering wheel will not turn the mechanism, which in turn meant that even the slightest steering adjustments required turning the wheel quite a few degrees; although the popularity of power steering has made high precision rack-and-pinion steering mechanisms the widespread ones, the convention of having to constantly swerve the steering wheel stayed long enough to make rack-and-pinion steerings look unrealistic.

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