Ever since the driving test changed in 2017, candidates are no longer expected to demonstrate the turn in the road manoeuvre (otherwise known as a three point turn) during their practical test. In day-to-day driving, however, this manoeuvre remains as relevant as ever, and being able to perform it well is crucial. So, if you're looking to become a pro at this manoeuvre, we've got just the thing for you!
This manoeuvre guide will walk you through the turn in the road: how to actually complete it, what an examiner would be looking for were it still on the test, and when you might need to use it in real-life conditions.
The turn in the road manoeuvre enables drivers to, as the name suggests, turn their vehicle around in the road. It's a method, much like reversing around a corner, which drivers can use to manoeuvre their vehicle to face the opposite direction if they're on a road that's too narrow for a U turn. With most drivers able to complete the manoeuvre in three moves, it is also commonly referred to as a “three point turn”.
Typical instructions from an ADI or examiner for this manoeuvre would be something along these lines:
“When it's safe to do so, would you please pull up on the left? Then I'd like you to turn the vehicle around to fact the opposite direction in as few moves as possible. Move off when you are ready.”
Before the driving test changes in 2017, turn in the road was one of four manoeuvres that learners might have been expected to demonstrate during their practical. Along with the reversing around a corner manoeuvre, turn in the road was taken off the list in favour of pulling up on the right. Please note, this does not mean you should neglect to learn how to turn in the road—instructors should still be teaching it.
Though the turn in the road manoeuvre no longer features on the practical test, we still have information on what examiners looked for when it was a requirement. Following these guidelines should help you not to simply complete the manoeuvre, but to carry it out to a high standard.
During the old driving test, the examiner would be keeping a close eye on your coordination of controls. To successfully execute a turn in the road, after all, you'll need to combine the careful use of your clutch with swift and controlled steering. Meanwhile, you'd also need to have displayed awareness of your surroundings, completing frequent observations in order to keep on top of oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.
You would have also been expected to demonstrate:
There are a few key things you need to ask yourself when thinking about completing a turn in the road manoeuvre:
Obviously, you should not attempt this manoeuvre on a main road. If you're not 100% certain you can complete a turn in the road safely, you should instead opt for reversing around a corner.
And now onto the fun part: learning how to complete a turn in the road! We're going to break it down into four separate parts in order to make it easier to follow—things always seem more doable when they're broken down into smaller parts. Of course, you might find that you won't need so many steps when completing it in real life.
You'll begin the turn in the road manoeuvre by parking on the left-hand side of the road. Whilst this might sound straightforward, it's absolutely vital that you carefully consider where you're going to stop your car. You shouldn't ever rush yourself when picking a safe location to park up at—if you don't think it through properly, you might end up disrupting the flow of traffic or, worse still, injuring someone in the process.
One of the most important things you need to remember with the turn in the road manoeuvre is that you should only start it once you're sure the road is clear. If you don't wait until it's clear, you'll end up holding up traffic until you're done—if you didn't feel the pressure before you started, you definitely would with dozens of drivers beeping at you to hurry up!
It's now time to start the reversing section of the turn in the road manoeuvre. Don't forget your observations—reversing is dangerous if you're not attentive to what's going on around you.
You're now only one move away from completing the turn in the road manoeuvre successfully!
Congratulations—you've gotten to the end of the step-by-step process of the turn in the road manoeuvre.
Now, whilst this guide shows you how to do it in three moves—a literal 3 point turn—it's important that you're aware that you can use as many moves as you'd like to complete it. If you're a beginner, it might take you longer to adjust to it. Once you've got more experience under your belt, you'll probably be able to do it without breaking a sweat!
You'd be pretty hard pressed to find many drivers in the UK who haven't ever had to turn around and change directions whilst out on the road. Whether you've come to the realisation that you've taken a wrong turn, or the road ahead is obstructed, or you're looking at joining a heavy stream of traffic in for a long wait, knowing what to do to change direction is essential.
If you're in this type of situation on the roads, and you're unable to do a U turn—many roads in the UK aren't wide enough for this—then a turn in the road (three point turn) might be your only option for turning around. In just a few simple moves, you can avoid going the wrong way and drive back the way you came. Of course, if you've not got enough room for this manoeuvre, you'll want to opt for reversing around a corner or continuing on to a side road instead.
Nope. You don't have to worry about turn in the road showing up on your test. Ever since the driving test changes introduced in 2017, it has been removed from the practical test, along with reversing around the corner.
As we've discussed in our section on “when would this be used in real life?”, a turn in the road is a top solution to changing direction on the road when you're unable to complete a U turn. As such, it's important that you know how to do it. Not tried it yet? Your instructor will teach you how to perform it safely.
Whilst the turn in the road manoeuvre won't show up on your test, you will be expected to demonstrate one of the three following manoeuvres instead:
As with most manoeuvres, yes, within reason. Firstly, you shouldn't bother attempting a turn in the road on a main road—it's unlikely it would stay clear long enough for you to complete the manoeuvre. In this type of scenario, you're better off finding somewhere else to safely turn around, e.g., a side road.
Nope. Despite its other commonly used name—three point turn—the turn in the road manoeuvre does not have to be completed in three moves. When the manoeuvre was part of the driving test, you were allowed up to five moves. In real life, of course, you're not limited to a certain number of moves. If you find you need to use five moves or more whenever you complete the manoeuvre, you might want to look into practising with an ADI to refine your skills.
Real life driving is unpredictable, so there's no real way to fully prepare for what might happen on the road. As such, it's mostly up to you to make the safest decision. A turn in the road could take you as little as one minute to complete, or as long as five minutes. If you don't think the roads will stay clear long enough, you might have to continue driving and turn into a side road, for example.
If you've already started the turn in the road when a vehicle shows up behind you, you don't really have any choice but to continue. Unless there's space for the other vehicle to manoeuvre past you, they have no way of getting by. If this happens, don't rush. Take your time and continue on as safely as possible. Don't worry about the other driver—they'll understand.
Signalling is vital on the road for helping other road users figure out what you intend to do—remember MSM! If you're driving down the road and stop suddenly, other road users aren't going to automatically assume you're turning around. As such, you should signal right to let them know you intend to turn.
As our directions state, the closest your vehicle should get to the kerb is within approximately 1 metre. When you learn how to perform this manoeuvre with your instructor, they'll teach you reference points and help you figure out how to gauge distances from the car you're driving in.
If you take things slowly enough during a manoeuvre, you should be able to stop things before anything dangerous occurs. If, at any point, you feel like you're close to hitting the kerb, stop what you're doing and readjust—don't just wait for something bad to happen first. Part of what makes a good driver is spotting potential hazards and making necessary adjustments to avoid them.