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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 – turnabout

A turnabout involves making a left hand turn into a designated space (driveway) and then backing the vehicle while turning so that the vehicle will be headed in the opposite direction. On a quiet street, have your teen identify an available driveway on the left hand side of the street, at a point where they can see oncoming traffic for at least 200 feet.

  • Check for traffic to the left, right and rear of the vehicle. Check traffic in front and rear zones as you approach the driveway.
  • Signal a left hand turn, position vehicle in the left-most lane.
  • Turn left into the designated space, staying as close to the right as possible. Stop with your wheels straight when your vehicle is completely off the street.
  • Continue checking for traffic in both directions; especially from the right.
  • Put the car in reverse and back up slowly to the right; look to the right rear and side while backing and turning; so your vehicle is headed in the opposite direction.
  • Stop, shift into drive and proceed forward gently into the correct lane, driving straight ahead.

Lesson three – 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:

  • Pull as far to the right as possible to maximize room to maneuver.
  • Turn sharply across the road ➊ until the car is perpendicular, facing the curb.
  • Continue checking for traffic in both directions.
  • Put the car in reverse ➋ and back up, turning sharply in the other direction, into the original lane, but now facing the opposite direction.
  • Shift into drive and pull forward ➌ into the correct lane, driving straight ahead.

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 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.