How to Do a Broken U-Turn

by Kristi Roddey

A broken U-turn, also called a three-point turn, is a driving maneuver that allows the driver to turn around to face the opposite direction. It is appropriate to perform a broken U-turn in situations where a regular U-turn is legal but may be difficult because the road is narrow. Most states require potential drivers to successfully perform a broken U-turn on their driving test. It is important to check vigilantly for oncoming traffic from both directions as you conduct the turn.

Check your rearview and side-view mirrors for approaching vehicles.

If no other vehicles are coming, steer your vehicle as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible, being careful to check for pedestrians or cyclists. Then come to a complete stop.

Turn on your left-turn signal to let other drivers know you plan to cross lanes, and check traffic again in both directions. If there are cars approaching from behind, you can motion for them to pass you.

Rotate the steering wheel as far to the left as possible, and slowly apply the gas so that your vehicle heads perpendicular to the opposite side of the street. Stop your car when the front is 6 to 10 inches from the side of the road.

Turn on your right-turn signal, and check your mirrors again to make sure it is safe to back the car. At this point, you will be blocking both lanes of traffic, so you need to ensure that no cars have pulled close to your vehicle.

Turn the steering wheel sharply to the right, as far as possible. Put the car in reverse and slowly back the car until the rear of the vehicle is within 6 to 10 inches of the side of the road.

Check again for oncoming traffic. If the road is clear, you can pull the car forward and proceed in the new direction.

Warnings

  • close Because broken U-turns require traffic to stop in both directions while you block both lanes, only perform one when there is no driveway available to pull into safely.
  • close Do not rely solely on your car's mirrors when checking for oncoming traffic. Turn your head to check all around the vehicle, including in your blind spot.
  • close Do not perform a broken U-turn too close to a blind corner. Make sure that other drivers entering the road have sufficient time and space to see you and pull up.

About the Author

A professional writer and editor, Kristi Roddey began freelancing in 1999. She has worked on books, magazines, websites and computer-based training modules, including South Carolina Educational Television's NatureScene Interactive, "Planted Aquaria," "Xtreme RC Cars" and online courses for Education To Go, Inc. Roddey holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Carolina.

Photo Credits

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