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How do you do a U-turn?

A U-turn is a manoeuvre where you turn the car 180 degrees so that you’re facing in the other direction.


The Road Code states that traffic doing a U-turn gives way to all other traffic.

You must not do a U-turn where there’s a sign saying that it is not permitted.

You can’t do a U-turn on a motorway, a one-way street or any road with a central median that cannot be crossed (this doesn’t include flush medians).


The risks with a U-turn are:

  • You have to judge the speed of approaching vehicles
  • Vehicles approaching from behind you could be in your blind spot (motorcyclists are at particular risk)
  • You might misjudge the U-turn and cause it to become a 3-point turn which takes much longer to execute.

U-turns are easier in a cul-de-sac (dead-end street) because there’s less likely to be vehicles approaching you.


The best place to do a U-turn is:

  1. Where you have good visibility ahead and behind your vehicle – at least 6 seconds at the speed limit is a good buffer
  2. When the kerb on both the left and right-hand side of the road is vacant (i.e. no vehicles parked there that narrow the road)
  3. Where the road is wide (i.e. not in a place where it narrows naturally or there’s a chicane or narrowing)
  4. When U-turns are not prohibited

Two-way road

To perform the U-turn on a two-way road, check your mirrors, signal to the left and move left towards the edge of the road. It’s best practice to stop so that you can take a good look ahead and behind.

Signal right, giving at least 3 seconds’ warning. Check in your mirrors and over your shoulder. When it’s clear, move forward as you turn your steering wheel hard right to full lock. Keep your speed fairly low; the higher the speed, the wider the turn and you might risk not making it.

Once you are facing in the opposite direction, cancel your indicator, and do another mirror and shoulder check before you get back up to road speed to make sure nobody has appeared that you didn’t see.


If you are performing the U-turn at traffic lights, ensure that there’s not a ‘no U-turn’ sign.

Signal right, but position your vehicle in the left-hand side of the right-hand lane (this gives you slightly more room to turn).

As you turn, double-check no vehicles are entering the intersection as they have right-of-way.

When can’t you do a U-turn?

At some intersections and in some streets, you might see a no U-turn sign. This is usually because it would be dangerous to perform that manoeuvre due to specific traffic light phasing, because of poor visibility, or to avoid people using the u-turn as a shortcut which disadvantages other traffic.

You shouldn’t do a U-turn on a pedestrian crossing, or where pedestrians are likely to cross when you are halfway through your manoeuvre. It’s also advisable to avoid U-turns where there is a solid yellow line because this typically indicates a no-passing line due to the visibility being poor.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

Posted in Advice