How to perform the turn in the road

This manoeuvre is often called the three-point-turn but in fact it doesn’t have to be completed in three movements.

The number of moves required will depend upon how wide the road is, how big your car is and the turning circle of your car. And of course, your skill at the manoeuvre!

The turn in the road is not just something you might have to do during your driving test.  You might have to turn your car round if you turn into a dead end road or if the road you’re in is blocked by roadworks or an accident.

And the skills you learn during driving lessons that include the turn in the road will be required in car parks, garages, tight driveways, petrol stations, and lots of other places.

So by perfecting your turn-in-the-road skills you will be laying the foundation for all of your future ‘tight space’ manoeuvres.

When doing any manoeuvre that includes reversing during your driving test, the examiner will watching to make sure that you do not endanger other road users. This means that you need to be fully aware of what is happening around your car at all times and be prepared to wait and give way to others if necessary.

Things the examiner will consider:

  • Effective observation
  • Correct use of controls
  • Reasonable accuracy
  • Correct positioning before and after the turn
  • Dealing with other road users safely

Things you need to consider:

Is the place you’re going to turn the car round safe, legal and convenient?

Examples of unsafe locations include:

  • Bends
  • The brow of a hill
  • Close to junctions
  • Near schools
  • Areas with a lot of pedestrians
  • Busy streets

Is it legal? You can’t turn your car around in a one way street or where you see a ‘no U turns’ sign.

Is it convenient? Don’t try to turn the car round in a busy road unless you really need to. And don’t get in the way of drivers trying to get their car in or out of a driveway.

In the image below, POM stands for Prepare, Observe, Move.


Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 13.19.47

How to do it

Stop close to and parallel to the kerb to start.

First leg

Prepare: clutch just below biting point.

Observe: good, all round, observations. If you see a car coming that you think will have to stop to let you do the manoeuver, wait. If you see pedestrians anywhere near the car, make sure you don’t drive towards them.

Move: as the car moves forward – very slowly – apply full right lock instantly. If the car picks up speed, slow it down by depressing the clutch and braking if necessary. Look up and down the road as you go. If you see a car approaching. it’s probably best to complete the first leg then wait to see what the vehicle is going to do. Once you’ve stopped check out the vehicle that was approaching. If it’s clearly waiting, it’s safe to continue but keep an eye on it. If the vehicle starts to move again, stop. If you see a pedestrian who might be at risk if you continue – stop immediately and wait for them to pass.

Just before you get to the kerb, steer left as much as possible while keeping you right foot near the brake. Try not to let the car move to the left while you apply the steering corrections. Stop gently. Secure the car with the handbrake then prepare for the second leg.

Second leg

Select reverse gear. Get to biting point so the car doesn’t roll forwards when you release the handbrake.

Take effective, all round observations. Your last look should be in the direction you’re going – over your right shoulder.

When you’re sure it’s safe to proceed, move slowly and immediately apply full left lock.

Deal with approaching road users and pedestrians as above.

As you approach the kerb, look over your right shoulder. When you get really close to the kerb (see the image below for help with reference points) steer right as much as possible and stop gently without touching the kerb.

Apply the handbrake.

Third leg

Find the biting point. Take good all round observations. Again, your last look should be in the direction you’re going – this time it’s forward.

Deal with approaching road users and pedestrians as above.

When you’re sure it’s safe to proceed, move slowly and immediately apply full right lock as the car moves very slowly.

As the car moves, decide if you’re going to get round without touching the kerb. If not, stop the car. Apply the handbrake. Reverse again after taking appropriate observations and applying left lock. Reverse slowly until you can see you have enough room to complete the manoeuver. Steer right before you stop.  Then select first gear, take more observations and try again!

Note: some roads are too narrow to get round in three movements. That’s ok – the examiner won’t penalise you for taking extra shunts. That’s why it’s called the ‘turn in the road’ – it’s not a three point turn.