Driving tests

18: Three-point turn

The aim of this lesson is for you to legally and safely complete a three point turn without touching the kerb or using a driveway. You’ll need to be driving in a 50kph zone on a two-way road with light traffic. There should be at least 50m visibility in either direction and no parked vehicles in the way. Choose a road which is wide enough to complete the manoeuvre in only three points (as opposed to, say, five points), but it must be narrower than the vehicle’s turning circle (i.e. you shouldn’t be able to complete the whole turn in one move.

Driver actions

  • Choose a safe place and position your car next to the kerb on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Check all around you using your mirrors, checking your blind spot, and looking ahead – a full 360 degrees.
  • Indicate right for at least three seconds before beginning the turn (it’s a good idea to keep checking your mirrors and over your right shoulder while before you move just in case another vehicle has appeared).
  • When it’s safe to turn, turn the wheels quickly using hand-to-hand (rotational) steering while moving the car slowly forwards.
  • Once you reach around one metre from the right hand side of the road straighten up the wheels and stop the car.
  • Apply the handbrake/park brake if necessary
  • Look around to see if any other traffic has appeared while you were performing the manoeuvre
  • If it’s safe to proceed, put the car into reverse, look behind you and as you start moving backwards slowly, quickly turn the wheels to the left. Your wheels should be turned almost to full lock – don’t try to turn beyond full lock as you can put strain on the power steering pump
  • Once you have driven back far enough that you can drive forwards along the road, stop the car, check all around you and if it’s safe to proceed, put the car in first gear (manual) or drive (automatic) and turn the wheels to the right as necessary while you begin to move forwards. Be careful not to touch the kerbs.

Perform this task three times.

Note: It’s a good idea to check with your driving instructor whether any additional or modified procedures are advised for the three-point turn. This is because there are multiple different conflicting sets of advice given, for example, on the first turn some people will say to start turning the wheels to the left before you stop, whereas others won’t and will ask you to turn the wheels to the left as you start reversing. In either case, it’s not good for your car to turn the wheels while you are stationary.

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