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7- Turning Around

Drivers Icon Teaching Your Teen to Drive

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. Since that’s not always possible, it’s important to practice other ways to turn around.

Lesson two – three-point turns

This more challenging turn should only be done when there is no available driveway. 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:

  • 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 the curb.
  • 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 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.

Backing up

Remind your teen to always look in the direction they are backing up and to back up slowly. When backing up a vehicle they need to remember they are responsible for traffic in all directions. Make sure they understand they do not have the right of way and must take care not to interfere with other traffic.