What Is a Three-Point Turn?


Quick Answer

A three-point turn allows a driver to reverse direction on a road too narrow for a U-turn. The driver turns left, bringing his car perpendicular to the road, then backs up while turning the wheel to the right until he faces the opposite direction. He then drives away.

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Full Answer

Three-point turns are commonly part of driver's license exams, both in the written and practical sections of the test. Typically, drivers can fail by not checking their mirrors when executing the turn or striking the curb on either side of the road while maneuvering.

In addition to being called a three-point turn, the maneuver is sometimes called a K-turn or a Y-turn due to the shape of the movement. In extremely narrow conditions, however, a driver may need more than three segments to fully reverse.

Teens learning to drive often have trouble with three-point turns due to the difficulty of properly estimating the length of the car versus the available space. Commonly, learning drivers stop far short of the curb, limiting the amount of space they have to turn and reorient the vehicle. For this reason, students often need extra practice to develop the spatial awareness necessary to complete the turn in three smooth steps.

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