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What are Driving Gloves?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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When cars were first built, they very often had steering wheels made of wood or sometimes uncovered metal. Cars had little insulation, and many of the first units employed neither heating nor cooling controls. Hands could get cold on long drives in the winter, or they could get sweaty in hot weather, making it more difficult to grip the steering wheel. Gloves at the time were already popularly worn for many things, warmth, fashion, et cetera. Driving gloves were a natural extension on the already many uses for gloves.

Others suggest that driving gloves could really refer to leather “riding” gloves. Holding the reins of a horse, or driving a coach meant many wore riding gloves. This protected the hands from calluses, and helped keep them warm on cold days. When humans switched from horse-powered vehicles to motorized ones, it simply made sense to keep the gloves on.

Today many driving gloves are still made of leather, and they’re not as necessary as in the past. They’re still worn with great regularity especially by professional racecar drivers, but some people consider them an affectation, or merely an accessory for cars that already have non-slip steering wheels. Many steering wheels today have grooves for the fingers to better help prevent slipping. A few older models have the very simple plastic wheel, which can be a little slippery. Classic car enthusiasts may very often wear driving gloves because they still prove necessary.

In keeping with modern times, driving gloves are now offered in a wide range of fabrics. Some also have heating elements for people who suffer from significant arthritis. This may make driving more comfortable for people whose hands are already achy, especially if a drive is going to be long. Of course, they can also just be a fashion statement, which seem to get special use by those who drive very fashionable or sporty cars. The range of choices suggest you can buy driving gloves that fit a specific need, or just because you want them.

Along with the earliest cars came the glove box or glove compartment. Now we may keep all kinds of things in the glove box, not just or perhaps not ever driving gloves. Yet the name remains because usage became so common, and also perhaps in homage to an era when such gloves made a great deal of practical sense.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By sumflow — On Feb 24, 2011

Driving gloves reached the pinnacle of design for comfort, safety, and car control, when sports car and competition drivers developed them for use in long distance road racing events.

By anon110852 — On Sep 13, 2010

Driving gloves also keep the naturally occurring oils on your skin from transferring to leather covered steering wheels found in luxury cars. The oil will cause that leather to become shiny and slick over time.

By anon87740 — On Jun 01, 2010

Driving gloves are not just an affectation. They brace the bones of the hands against vibration and jolting. The difference after a day of driving is remarkable.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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