Wheeldock - Safe Steering Wheel Smartphone Holder




Not being satisfied with phone holders available I decided I would create my own.

Sitting in the drivers seat of my car, I thought, where would be the best place for my iPhone to be?
I wanted the phone to be close so I could see it and close enough to touch it, yet outside my normal viewing range.

I looked around the car and it became abundantly clear to me. The holder I create would place the phone at the center of the steering wheel.

While I knew an airbag was underneath the hub cover, I also knew that in over 20 years of a lot of driving, I never had an air bag deploy. I realized that the probability of an air bag deploying was fairly low.

Even though the chance might be low, if it did happen I wanted to make sure the phone wouldn't hurt me or my Wheeldock phone holder prevent the airbag from working normally.

For more than 12 months I carefully studied air bags and deployment, and pondering the design of the holder, I arrived at a design which incorporates a load rated safety tether strap and a 'fall away' design which works to achieve those objectives.

Well. I made it.  For 18 months, practically every day, I've used Wheeldock to hold my phone.
Like anything new, I adjusted to it, and explored features on the phone which make the whole thing work brilliantly.

Because I enjoyed it so much, I shared with colleagues, friends and family.  They're now using a Wheeldock too.
Being able to use their phone as a GPS and browse the web or an email occasionally (and quickly) were great benefits.
Wheeldock doesn't interfere at all with the natural steering and driving motions of the driver. It really is pretty neat.

To enable others that might not be completely satisfied with their phone holder, or just want to try out something better, I set up a website to offer Wheeldock at a reasonable price.


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    12 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Not only is this extremely dangerous because of blocking the air bag. In some states it is illegal.

    6 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi MrE

    I'm curious to learn the basis of your opinion. If its "extremely dangerous" as you opine then how is it that I and many others have used for more than a year completely safely?

    With respect to legality, I know of no law which specifically makes Wheeldock illegal. Perhaps you could enlighten me with the details of your legal knowledge in this area.



    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Simple Google search first brought up http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d12/vc26708.htm Section 12, (12) A portable Global Positioning System (GPS), which may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver and outside of an airbag deployment zone, if the system is used only for door-to-door navigation while the motor vehicle is being operated.
    Also all car manuals specifically say to leave air bag deployment area free from obstructions. Simple common sense tells people that an exploding bag should not have an item in front of it.
    Here's another. http://www.ehow.com/list_6888685_complications-deployment-airbags.html Obstruction of Airbag

    Obstruction of the airbag often causes complications with deployment. Leave the zones in front of airbags free, as your car manual will specify. Installations such as mobile phone supports, iPod dockings and phone chargers could be in the airbag's way when it needs to deploy.

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/list_6888685_complications-deployment-airbags.html#ixzz2jiJilpIS


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you MrE that helps.

    I agree it is really important that windscreens are kept clear and any obstructions to view (such as GPS, cameras etc., should be minimized, in fact, Wheeldock was brought to life so that the windscreen remained entirely free from bulky objects. Using a Wheeldock, the windscreen is perfectly clear.
    This section doesn't seem to apply to Wheeldock as it doesn't obstruct the view of the driver. It actually improves the view by giving drivers back a clear windscreen free of visual distractions. The section you provided from what I can see doesn't apply to Wheeldock and doesn't make it illegal.

    Car manuals I've seen have warnings on maintaining the driver at a safe distance from the airbag. When I've thought about this, it was evident to me that many drivers may be risking their lives when they lean forward to use devices mounted on windscreens, placing themselves in the airbag deployment zone which may lead to death caused by the airbag designed to save it.

    As for obstructing the operation of the airbag, unique innovative features of Wheeldock practically eliminates Wheeldock causing an obstruction to the airbag. When taking into consideration that the airbag is already covered by the plastic covering of the wheel, in the same way that cover has in-built perforations to allow passage of the airbag, Wheeldock makes use of this as the holder falls away as and when the plastic covering is ruptured by the emerging airbag, with a safety tether on one point to safely guide (though not resist) the device held by Wheeldock away from the driver. In any case, car manual aren't exactly legal requirements...

    While I understand the urge to jump to conclusions about things that one might typically consider dangerous, I'm of the view that one should keep an open mind and arrive at conclusions through facts and reason.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Even if all is fine, legal, and whatever; when and if the airbag goes off...

    It'll fling that cellphone with its glass screen right at your face with a surprising amount of force possibly blinding or scarring you.

    At the very least, more than sufficient to make you regret ever putting it there.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Both the mass (weight) and the force (speed/velocity) involved with the scenario of an airbag deploying are largely known.

    With phones weighing less than 200grams, the deployment force of the airbag and milliseconds of time involved results in the safety strap needing to deal with about 2 tonnes of load. The load rating of webbing straps and stitching method is far greater than this so will adequately restrain the device.

    By comparison, the load rating of a suction mount is around 200kgs, which presents greater risk to a driver from their device becoming a projectile in a sudden deceleration.

    Think about it, seatbelts are strong enough to restrain us during an accident and people weigh much more than a small little smart phone.
    Why is it that people doubt a phone can be similarly restrained?

    In any case, a deploying airbag is a such a relatively rare occurrence for the vast majority of drivers and the risk of an impact you described should be regarded as remote / highly improbable (virtually never).


    Reply 2 years ago

    I think you are saying that the wheeldock will prevent the airbag from deploying and sending any cell phone screaming into your face. Is that correct? If so, than you are saying that by using the wheeldock you are no longer protected by the airbag in the steering wheel. First, I doubt the wheeldock could prevent the airbag from deploying and slamming a cell phone into your face and second, even if it could prevent it from deploying, it would smarter/safer to NOT use your cell phone when driving and retain the safety of the airbag.


    3 years ago

    How is this an instructable and not an ad?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Florian,

    More than happy to spread the word even though you're competition in a way....

    Wheel Dock wants to see drivers use their smartphones more responsibly and safely with whatever "solution" works for them.

    While Wheel Dock provides direct and immediate access to a driver's smartphone, a device they're very familiar with, App Your Car, once people get used to it, could be a suitable option for many.

    While Wheel Dock enables drivers to utilize the full array of their smartphones features, App Your Car has opted to restrict what a driver can use. Again, not every driver wants everything while some drivers spend time in the car often waiting, so using more of their phone suits them more.

    Wheel Dock is a solution for Android and Apple phones and is future proof from changes in technology. I understand why App Your Car won't work for iPhone's. It's a shame but maybe this will change one day.

    There is one aspect of App Your Car that I'd love to learn more about, and that is how your holder restrains the smartphone should an accident occur. Being mounted on the dash, App Your Car, places the phone at drivers' head height. How have you guys made sure the phone is safely mounted should the vehicle rapidly decelerate due to impact? As you may know, Wheel Dock secures the smartphone and safely directs the phone away in this situation, protecting the driver and passengers from such a harm.

    You might already have guessed I won't be switching from Wheel Dock... after using Wheel Dock for over four years, Wheel Dock is just too incredibly functional and enables me to use everything and anything on my smartphone whenever I need to, all very safely. I find that my smartphone already does all that I need it to, and adding another device to my life is unnecessary and unlikely to make things easier than just using the smartphone itself...

    Best of luck with App Your Car. I hope your crowd funding campaign is successful.

    Whether it's a Wheel Dock or App Your Car, seeing more drivers safely and responsibly use their smartphones when driving is an outcome Wheel Dock wants to see realized....


    Wheel Dock


    5 years ago

    Have you attached it to a steering wheel/airbag assembly outside of a car and set off the airbag to test it? I've often thought of placing py phone/gps in the same location, but the airbag has always been the "no deal" for me. And your right, I haven't had any airbags deploy, thankfully, but knowing my luck they'll go off two blocks from my house after I install my phone on the wheel.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I totally agree GarageGuru,
    I too - fortunately - have not had an airbag deploy in more than 25 years of motoring, however, without proper testing, I think that contraption is a projectile waiting to fly in someone's face / chest area.
    There's a reason why not one single car manufacturer has adopted this method of mounting a device on top of an airbag.

    Wheeldock, I wish you all the best - motoring and other wise, but I do honestly think this is a dangerous idea and hope you can see it that way too. The risk - albeit minimal like you say - is far greater than the benefit.