The Three Point Turn

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Occasionally you will need to do a Three Point Turn. This might be when you have made a wrong turn, seen a parking spot on the other side of the street or you are at the end of a dead end street. Using a Three Point Turn you can turn the vehicle around in a street that is too narrow to perform a U-turn.

Before performing a three point turn

Before you can perform a Three Point Turn, you need to be proficient in the use of:

  • Accelerator and brakes
  • The gears
  • The clutch
  • Starting and stopping the car
  • Hand-over-hand steering technique
  • Blind spots
  • Moving to and from the kerb
  • Slow moving forward
  • Uphill starts
  • Downhill starts
  • Reversing
  • Slow speed control
  • Road signs and markings

The key to performing a good Three Point Turn is great car control. You need to keep the car going as slow as possible and the steering moving as quickly as possible. One of the big mistakes that drivers make when doing a Three Point Turn is turning the steering wheel when the vehicle is stationary. With a modern vehicle with power steering you won’t feel that it is difficult to do, however, your steering system and tyres will be hating you for it! Best practice is to make sure that the vehicle is moving even just a tiny bit before turning the steering wheel. This can be best done by turning the steering straight before stopping when doing your forward and reverse changes.
The most important part of doing a Three Point Turn is checking for traffic. Before each point change, using your mirrors and turning your head, you need to check that the traffic situation around you has not changed.

Where to do a Three Point Turn

  • Make sure that you can be seen.
  • Don’t do a Three Point Turn near a corner, crest or block out.
  • A Three Point Turn must not be done across any unbroken line.
  • Never use a driveway, this manoeuvre must be completed on the road surface without hitting the kerb.

How to do a Three Point Turn

  • Start a Three Point Turn by doing a kerbside stop, assess the traffic both in front and behind to ensure that there is time to perform the manoeuvre, then leave the curb (you have no right of way when you are performing a Three Point Turn).
  • Once you are moving, you need to turn the wheel as quickly as possible to the right.
  • Just before you get to the opposite kerb, straighten the steering in preparation for reverse.
  • After checking for traffic, reverse and turn the wheel quickly to the left.
  • Only reverse as far as is necessary to clear the kerb when moving forward.
  • Before you move forward again, check the traffic again and then off you go.

Sometimes a road is too narrow to make the manoeuvre in three points, in this case  you can use five. Just make sure to keep an eye on traffic throughout the process.

How do you know that you are confident at the Three Point Turn? 

  • When you start practicing Three Point Turns on a road that is just too narrow that a U-turn cannot be completed.
  • At the top level you can do a Three Point Turn on a narrow road with lots of parked cars and heavy road camber. In this situation, you will have to select an appropriate gap and use high level car control.