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, practice other ways to turn around.

Lesson two – two-point turns

A two-point turn involves backing into a driveway to reverse direction. On a quiet street, have your teen identify an available driveway on the same side of the street as your car, at a point where they can see oncoming traffic for at least 200 feet.

  • Pull just ahead of the driveway, making sure there is no traffic behind the car, and signal.
  • Make sure the road is clear behind the car and the driveway, put the car in reverse, and then back into the driveway.
  • Shift back into drive and check the road for approaching traffic from both directions.
  • When it’s clear, turn back onto the road.

Lesson three – three-point turns

This more challenging turn should only be done when there is no other option. Three-point turns block both sides of a two-lane road, so coach your teen to make absolutely sure that the traffic is clear in both directions. Three-point turns should only be made on streets where visibility is good, when traffic is light,and only when the turn is legal.

  • Pull as far to the right as possible to maximize room to maneuver. Check in both directions for traffic, and cyclists, and signal left.
  • Move slowly and turn the steering wheel quickly to the left, until the car is perpendicular to the street, facing the curb. Come to a stop.
  • Continue checking for traffic in both directions.
  • Put the car in reverse and back up while looking over your right shoulder , turning sharply in the other direction. Back up to the opposite curb, stopping just before the curb.
  • Check for traffic in both directions, Signal left, shift into drive, and accelerate to the proper speed.

Lesson four – 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 oncoming traffic.
  • 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 legal in many locations, however, in the District of Columbia U-turns are illegal at all intersections with a traffic signal. 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.