7- Turning Around

Goal: Teach your teen the best ways to turn a vehicle around in various circumstances.

Location: Start on a quiet neighborhood street with accessible driveways. Please be respectful of neighbors and private property. Move to a multi-lane road for U-turns, if legally allowed in your area.

Lesson one – turning around safely

Start by coaching your teen that the safest and easiest way to turn around is to drive around the block. The less backing up, the better! Since that’s not always possible, it’s important to practice other ways to turn around.

Lesson two – three-point turns

This is a more challenging turn and your teen needs to understand that it should only be performed when the street is narrow, with good visibility, with no public driveways, when traffic is light, where it’s legal, and when there is no other option.

  • Position yourself as close as possible to the right edge of the curb. Signal a left turn. Check for traffic and pedestrians in both directions (including your blind spot). Wait until there is a 20–30 second gap to complete the turn.
  • Move slowly and turn the steering wheel quickly to the left. This will bring the vehicle perpendicular to the street about two feet from the curb. Come to a stop.
  • Turn the steering wheel fully to the right. Check for traffic in both directions (including your blind spot). Shift into reverse and start backing up, while looking over your right shoulder.
  • Back up to the opposite curb, stopping just before it.
  • Check again for traffic in both directions (including your blind spot). Signal a left. Shift into drive (or for manual cars, first gear) and accelerate to the proper speed.

Lesson three – U-turns

First explain that U-turns can be very dangerous, and should only be done where they are legal.

  • Begin the U-turn in the left lane, closest to the center line or median.
  • Be sure there is enough room to make the turn without hitting the curb or any parked cars.
  • Signal to indicate the direction of the turn, checking carefully for traffic in both directions.
  • Move forward, turning the wheel sharply to turn around.
  • Finish the U-turn in the opposite direction and accelerate to an appropriate speed.

Legal U-turns

U-turns are illegal in many locations. Make sure you and your teen only practice legal U-turns. U-turns should never be made across a double yellow line or where a sign indicates that they are prohibited.