When you take your driving test you’ll be expected to perform certain manoeuvres, the three point turn – or turn in the road as it’s sometimes called – being one of these.
The examiner will be looking for certain features as you perform the three point turn: control, smoothness, safety, general awareness, observation skills and use of the clutch, accelerator and brake. You will also be expected to perform the manoeuvre without bumping against the kerb.
Although it might sound complex to a new driver, the three point turn is actually simpler than it sounds. Here are a few pointers to help you complete it with ease.
Find a safe spot
To perform the three point turn you should find a spot in the road which isn’t immediately next to a telephone box, lamppost or other obstruction that would be behind your car when you reverse.
Pull over onto the left hand side of the road and make sure that you’ve got sufficient room in from of you and behind. Switch your indicator off and look over your right hand shoulder to check that the road is clear before you attempt to start to move.
Performing the move
Using your clutch and keeping the car in first gear, move the vehicle slowly forwards and turn your steering wheel hard to the right. The aim is to get your car pointing across the road at a right angle.
As you get close to the kerb, move your steering wheel sharply in the opposite direction, to the left hand side. Then apply the clutch and brake smoothly without hitting the curb.
Put your handbrake on, move into reverse gear and then find the biting point. Don’t move off without checking the way is clear. If there’s no obstructions or hazards move slowly backwards, turning your steering wheel as far to the left as possible.
You’ll be able to see the kerb approaching over your right hand shoulder, as it nears briskly turn the steering wheel back round to the right, almost on full lock. Make sure you brake before you hit the kerb.
Put the handbrake on again, and put the car into first gear. Find the biting point but don’t move off without checking it’s clear in all directions. If it’s safe to do so, drive slowly forward moving the wheel to the right. You should find this places you perfectly onto the left hand side of the road where you can gently straighten up your car and continue on your way.
If you’re asked to perform the three point turn during your driving test, the most important thing is to remain calm. Even if it’s not going quite as planned, don’t panic, you won’t be expected to drive as well as a professional!
If you don’t make the turn in three points as you were intending, it’s far better to continue and take another couple of moves to finish off rather than risk hitting the kerb. If it’s a road that you should really have been able to negotiate in three moves, you may incur a minor for taking more turns, but nothing more. Hitting the kerb on the other hand, could be simply disastrous.
A three point turn is a manoeuvre that shouldn’t be attempted in a busy location and in the majority of cases; there will be an easier place to turn around. However it’s important to be able to complete it in case you need to turn your car around in the event of an emergency.
Good awareness of other vehicles is one of the things the instructor will be looking for during the test. You won’t need to indicate, and you shouldn’t feel rushed, but observe what other vehicles do when they approach. It’s a good idea to stop and wait to see if they are going to let you continue or try to squeeze past. As long as you are clearly observant of what’s going on in the road around you while you complete the manoeuvre, all will be fine.