Official Drivers Ed Direct Website

Left Turns for Beginners

Driving School How To - Left Turn Steering Control

Ride along with instructors Alejandra and Micah as they teach you two different steering techniques: the Hand-Over-Hand and Push-Pull. For each turning style, Alejandra will first go through step by step instructions on how to execute a left turn in a residential neighborhood. Then Micah will show real-life applications of each technique!

Left Turns for Beginners, Video Transcript

In today's video we are going to cover one of the most challenging driving skills for new drivers. Making Turns!

I'm Alejandra and today I've got fellow driving instructor Micah here to help us out. Ok folks, let's talk about the hand movements required to make a left turn. Before we even start, let's learn another valuable safety tip regarding HOW you grab the wheel. Never grab the wheel from the inside like this to turn it. In the event of an accident where your wheel snaps back into the center position, your poor wrist is very likely to break from the extreme force. Check out the video above for other great tips from instructor Liz about where to safely position your hands on the steering wheel.

So onward with steering control... We're actually going to cover 2 different methods: the traditional "hand-over-hand" method, as well as the "push-pull" method or "shuffle method". We teach our students both methods because both can be highly effective -- and at the end of the day, we encourage our students to use the method that provides them with the best control of their car. For some students that's hand-over-hand, for others it's the push-pull.

Left Turn Hand Over Hand Steering Method

The hand over hand technique is usually a 3-step process for most left turns, let's demonstrate first while we are parked:

Step 1: With both hands on the wheel at the 10 and 2 position, you're first movement will be with your RIGHT hand. As your left hand releases grip of the wheel, use your right hand to push the steering wheel from the 2 o'clock position to about the 10 o'clock position.

Step 2: Now with your LEFT hand, reach OVER your right hand and grab the steering wheel at the 2 o'clock and pull it to the 10 o'clock position, again as your release your right hand grip.

Step 3: Now put your RIGHT hand back to the 2 o'clock position and hold the wheel steady while you make the arc of your turn.

Take a look at the steering wheel -- it should now be turned at least three-quarters of the way -- basically facing the right or even almost back to the straight-up position -- and that's about how much you turn the wheel for a normal left turn. For a wide turn, you may turn in a bit less. For a very sharp turn, you may turn it much more. Every turn will be different, but in general, most turns require you to move the wheel like we just did, almost one full turn.

Let's try a standard left turn again, a little more fluidly this time. Counting "1-2-3" can help you get the hang of the movements, like this: "1-2-3".

One more time, this time you can try saying aloud "hand-over-hand" as you go, like this: "Hand-Over-Hand"

Now you're getting the hang of it! So that's how you will start making your left turn once you get going. When you complete your turn, you basically do the opposite movements to "walk back" the steering wheel, like this: "3-2-1".

When you put it all together, it's "1-2-3" to start the turn and then walk it back "3-2-1" to return the wheel to the straight position and complete the turn. One more time: "hand-over-hand" to start and then "hand-over-hand" to bring the wheel back.

Ok, enough sitting in a parked car and pretending. Let's do a variety of left turns so you can see the entire hand over hand in action!

Example 1 : Hand Over Hand from Stopped Position

Here we are at an all way stop, let's turn to the left. As soon as my left mirror passes the curb, I start turning hand-over-hand to the left like this "1-2-3"... I hold the wheel through the turn, and aiming at my target I begin to walk the wheel back "3-2-1" ... easy.

Example 2 : Hand Over Hand Rolling Left Turn

This next turn is going to be rolling. I've slowed down, and as my mirror passes the curb I turn the wheel "1-2-3" and hold it and then start to counter-steer "3-2-1" as I accelerate out of the turn. Nice.

Ok all, we're definitely making progress!

Left Turn Push-Pull Steering Method

While we start by teaching the hand-over-hand method, some students seem to better grasp the push-pull method and some non-US countries actually require that drivers do their turns using the push-pull or "shuffle method". Do whatever works for you, but we find that hand-over-hand tends to be preferred when making tighter turns, while the push-pull method is great for wider turns... not to mention that the push-pull method also allows for making easier micro-adjustments to the wheel during a turn, if something is a little off.

Here's what making a left-turn with the push-pull method looks like -- whereas hand over hand is more of a 10-and-2 song and dance, push-pull is most easily performed using the 9-and-3 hand positions.

Starting with your hands on the 9 and 3 positions, you push the wheel up with your right hand until the 12-position like this. Then grab the wheel with your left hand at the same 12-position, without crossing your hands, and pull it down to the 9-position. You'll repeat this exact same motion for most turns. The entire movement is basically "push-pull, push-pull" and you'll notice the steering wheel has basically made one full turn.

Let's do an actual turn using the push-pull method so you can see it in action. As my mirror passes the curb, I push the wheel up to the 12-position with my right hand, and then pull it down with my left hand to the 9-position, and then quickly repeat the same push-pull movement again. I hold it here through the turn, and then shuffle back the wheel as I come out of the turn, like this... see how I shuffle back as I accelerate out of the turn? Great!

An added bonus of the push-pull method is that your hands never cross, which is obviously a win if the airbag were to deploy.

Again, we recommend trying the push-pull method if you're struggling with the hand-over-hand technique. Even if you're a pro at hand-over-hand, try out the push-pull on a wider turn and you'll see it provides pretty nice control without you having to cross your hands at all.

Alright everyone, now it's our turn to sign off for Micah and Alejandra and everyone at Drivers Ed Direct, we wish you the best of luck on your driving journey and we'll see you again soon. See ya!