There are few things more annoying and time-consuming than driving on a road in the wrong direction but finding no available side-streets to use to change direction. Luckily, there is a basic maneuver called the 3-point turn that is used if you need to turn your car around in a tight space.
What is a 3 Point Turn?
The three-point turn is the turn-of-choice when you need to turn around on a road that is too narrow for you to make a U-turn. In addition, the three-point turn is also a requirement for the driver’s license examination in many states. This means new drivers must know how to perform a three-point turn to get their license, and licensed drivers should know how to perform the three-point turn due to how useful it actually is.
The three-point turn enables you to turn on a narrow road by turning the steering wheel and moving your vehicle three times (which is where the “three” in the name comes from).
We’ll go through all the details in our simple Step-by-Step Guide below.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How To Do a 3-Point Turn
You need to continuously look for traffic while performing a three-point turn due to how long it takes to complete. Follow these simple steps.
- Pull over to the right side of the road and wait until traffic is clear
- Turn the steering wheel to the left, then turn left across the road
- Turn the steering wheel to the right, then reverse
- Turn the steering wheel left, then straighten up and move into the correct lane
Step #1 – pull over to the right side of the road and wait until traffic is clear
Before you begin the maneuver, you should first signal and pull over to the right side of the road. Stay on the side of the road until traffic is clear and you have plenty of room in both directions to perform the 3-point turn.
But just as importantly, you start from the far right side of the road to get as much use of the road as possible as you maneuver your vehicle.
Step #2 – turn the steering wheel to the left, then turn left across the road
After waiting for a safe gap in traffic, you want to signal left and turn the steering wheel all the way to the left. Turning the steering wheel all the way will enable you to get out the maximum change in direction from the turn. Then turn left across the road all the way to the curb on the opposite side of the road.
Step #3 – turn the steering wheel to the right, then reverse
The next step is to turn the steering wheel all the way to the right. Once you have turned the wheel all the way to the right, reverse until you reach the curb.
Step #4 – turn the steering wheel left, then straighten up and move into the correct lane
After you have reversed into the curb, you will be situated on the wrong side of the road. To get back into the proper lane, simply turn the steering wheel once more to the left and straighten your vehicle up by driving forward and moving into the correct lane.
When Should You Do a Three-Point Turn?
A 3-point turn takes more time than traditional turns and you need plenty of space in both directions to perform the turn safely. As many roads are too busy to provide you this amount of space, you need to take other traffic into consideration before you begin the turn. You should not perform a 3-point turn if the turn will disrupt the traffic flow or it is unsafe.
On any road with a steady flow of traffic, it may be smarter to do a U-turn or drive around-the-block rather than waiting around to do a 3 point turn.
Doing a Three-Point Turn on the Driving Test
Here are 5 tips to successfully complete a three-point turn on the driving test:
- Practice on empty roads
- Take your time and do not force the turn
- Turn the steering wheels all the way for each step (or 3 steps won’t be enough)
- Continuously look for traffic in your mirrors
- If you can find an easier solution (like a U-turn), use it instead