You no longer need to know how to do a three point turn to pass your driving test; but it is something you will need to do at some point however, so you should still learn how to do this. It requires you to co-ordinate controls and carry out good all round observation; not an easy task at first!
You should start with a road which is fairly wide and flat to begin with. Pick a spot where you will not be driving or reversing towards any obstructions such as signposts or trees near the kerb edge.
Prepare for moving off as normal. Take the usual observation checks behind but also make sure the road is clear well ahead. When it’s safe, you must then move very slowly forward while steering rapidly and fully to the right. Look both ways as you cross the road, and as you approach the far kerb turn quickly back to the left before stopping. You should aim to stop about a foot from the kerb.
The turning back of the wheel is very important as it sets the wheels up correctly for the next move you’re going to make. If you don’t do this you are likely to make things difficult for yourself. Also, don’t be tempted to ‘dry steer’ while the car is stationery. This can damage your tyres and put unnecessary strain on the mechanics. It is acceptable however, to cross your hand while manoeuvring at low speeds.
Once at the kerb, the first thing you must do is apply the parking brake. Most roads have some sort of slope ‘camber’ and without the brake the car is going to roll. Even if you are starting on a flat road, do this to get used to doing this routine.
Get into reverse gear and bring the clutch to biting point just like you normally do when moving off. When you’re ready, look all round the car. When it is safe you can slowly reverse, turning the wheel quickly and fully to the left. For the first part, look over your left shoulder, but about half-way across, glance to the right again and then turn to look over your right-hand shoulder.
As you near the kerb, steering needs to be turned back to the right as much as possible before stopping.
Next, apply the parking brake again, select first gear and prepare to move off. Check both ways, and when safe you can start forward, still slowly, but steering quickly to the right. When you are sure that the tyres are clear of the kerb you can straighten up and move into a normal parking position or drive away.
Practising the Turn
Once you begin the exercise, you may find that other drivers may approach before you have time to finish. If there is room, they may continue past you but generally most will stop and wait. Do not rush if this happens. Prepare for your next move, check to make sure that it is still safe and then carry on. Give them a nod of thanks if you can or your accompanying driver can give them a wave. You may be tempted to wave other people on. If you look to make sure it is safe then that would be acceptable; but do not beckon someone through if you are in doubt or there are other people they may come into conflict with.
If at any time during the manoeuvre you think you are going to hit the kerb, stop and take another shunt. It is not necessarily a three point turn, just make as few moves as you can.
Once you have got the hang of doing the turn on a wide and level road, start to practise on narrower roads. Leave the roads with a steeper camber until you are pretty confident of your control however.