How to do a 3 Point Turn

A 3 Point Turn is a standard manoeuvre in turning a vehicle around when the road is too narrow to perform a U-turn and requires the use of forward and reverse gears.  This basic manoeuvre requires you to drive across the road and towards the kerb on the opposite side of the street (offside kerb) before reversing back until there is enough space to exit and drive out. However, we will explain this in more detail on how to safely perform a 3 Point Turn below.

When would I do a 3 Point Turn?

You would be likely to perform a 3 Point Turn when you wish to park in an available parking space on the opposite side of the street or when you have made a wrong turn.  During the RMS driving test, you will be expected to perform certain manoeuvres which may include a 3 Point Turn.  If you are asked to perform this manoeuvre, the testing officer will assess your overall ability to position the vehicle legally, safely and accurately.

Whenever you complete a 3 Point Turn, you must ensure it is clear of other vehicles, pedestrians and other potential hazards by looking left and right as well as checking all of your blind spots.  To safely do this, you must check for traffic before each movement.  When performing a 3 Point Turn, you have maximum of five (5) direction changes however, if you are able to complete the manoeuvre in three (3) direction changes, you will be expected to achieve this.

How to Perform a 3 Point Turn safely and effectively

The key to effectively completing a three-point turn is by maximising the movement (turning) of your vehicle over a minimum distance (width).  You must travel slowly whilst being able to steer quickly.  A common mistake we find is drivers steer to slow thus preventing maximum movement on the roadway which positions the vehicle in a direction not suitable for reverse changes.

To safely and effectively perform a kerbside stop, follow these simple steps.

  1. When you are planning to do a 3 Point Turn, you need to be scanning ahead to find a suitable location. You must ensure that where you plan to complete the manoeuvre, there is available space on the opposite side of the road (offside kerb) to allow maximum turning of your vehicle.
  2. You must complete a kerbside stop before commencing a 3 Point Turn.
  3. Before leaving the kerb, ensure you abide by the normal procedure for leaving the kerb and that is by checking your mirrors, blind spots and indicating your intent for at least five (5) seconds.
  4. Ensure that you assess traffic all directions to allow you time to safely and effectively to perform the manoeuvre. (Remember, you have no right of way when performing a 3 Point Turn)
  5. After it is clear to proceed, pull away from the kerb slowly and full steer to the right as quickly as you can. When close to the opposite side of the road and without touching the kerb, straighten your wheels in preparation to reverse.
  6. After selecting reverse ( R ), make sure you scan all around your vehicle to ensure it is safe before moving. Once you are satisfied it is clear to proceed, slowly reverse whilst steering quickly to the left. Make sure that you look in the direction of travel whilst reversing. You only need to reverse back as far as necessary to exit out and safely clear the kerb.
  7. Prior to moving forward, you must check for other traffic in both directions to ensure you are clear to drive forward.

Important points to remember during the 3 Point Turn

  • Make sure to do a kerbside stop prior to commencing the 3 Point Turn.
  • Ensure you indicate your intent for at least 5 seconds before leaving the kerb.
  • When conducting a 3 Point Turn, it is paramount that you check for other traffic, pedestrians and potential hazards before each direction change.
  • Make sure to look in the direction of travel during each direction change.
  • Ensure to indicate when exiting out of a 3 Point Turn.

Safe places to do a 3 Point Turn

It is important that you select a safe area to conduct a 3 Point Turn.  Because this manoeuvre requires you to turn your vehicle across the road of oncoming traffic, make sure that you allow plenty of distance for other road users to see you.

Never conduct a 3 Point Turn near corners, bends or on the crests of hills.

Never conduct a 3 Point Turn over double unbroken separation lines.