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Making 3-Point and 2-Point Turns for Beginners

Residential Neighborhood 3-Point and 2-Point Turns

Welcome back to Part 2 of our "turning-yourself-around" series. Join Kimberly as she delves into the world of driving maneuvers that evoke both admiration and apprehension among driving enthusiasts -- the esteemed 3-Point and 2-Point turns! But hey, don't be too worried! As you'll soon see, it's really not that bad once you get the hang of it!

Turning Around in Neighborhoods - Part 2: 3-Point and 2-Point Turns, Video Transcript

Welcome back all you thousands of prospective and current driving wonders! I'm Kimberly, with Drivers Ed Direct, and if you missed part one of our "turning-yourself-around" series where we covered U-Turns in residential neighborhoods, I highly recommend that you check it out! Not only do we show you how to make U-turns, but we also go over the rules and regulations the DMV has put into place to make them safe. Today, in part two of the series, we will cover the legendary driving maneuvers feared and revered by driving students everywhere: the 3-Point and 2-Point turns! But don't get toooooo scared! As you'll soon see, there's really nothing to it once you know what you're doing. Don't believe me? Let's go!

Making 3-Point turns

U-shaped-turns are great and all, but what do you do when the street isn't wide enough for you to safely execute a continuous U-turn? That's where 3-Point and 2-Point turns come in handy. Fun fact: 3-Point and 2-Point turns are technically considered U-turns because the California Vehicle Code defines U-Turns as the (Kimberley uses stuffy professor voice) "turning of a vehicle upon a highway so as to proceed in the opposite direction whether accomplished by one continuous movement or not".

The first NON-continuous U-turn we'll cover is a 3-Point turn because it's just a little bit easier for beginners to handle. So what-the-what is a 3-Point turn? In short, a 3-Point turn is where you use a driveway on the left to begin your turnaround maneuver, and then back out of the driveway in the other direction before finally pulling forward to head in the opposite direction from where you started. Some people call this a k-turn because you'll sort of be tracing the letter "K" to turn around. Confused? Don't be -- let's do one to show you just how easy it is... and speaking of easy, please like this video if you don't mind -- it really helps get our videos out there to more learning-to-driver viewers like yourself.

Ok, onwards and upwards with a 3-Point Turn!

1) Assess

Step 1) Assess the Situation: Is this a safe place to make a 3-Point turn? Remember, the same rules from U-turns apply -- you need to be able to see clearly for 200 feet, not in front of a fire station, et cetera. While intersections are great for doing U-turns, we recommend doing 3-Point turns using a driveway instead. For beginners, we recommend a nice big driveway with no cars in it, somewhere in the middle of the block. The bigger and emptier the driveway, the more room to maneuver as you learn.

As you approach the driveway, also scan the road and sidewalks for any vehicles or pedestrians. Likewise, be sure to double check for any vehicles or pedestrians in the driveway you have chosen.

2) Prepare

Step 2) Prepare for a safe 3-Point turn: When you see the driveway ahead that you are going to use for your maneuver, turn your left signal on to let those behind you know what's going on, and check your rearview mirror before slowing down. Is there traffic tailgating you? Then you don't want to slow down abruptly or you might get rear-ended.

With your vehicle positioned on the left-side of your lane, stop your vehicle when your left-mirror is lined up just past the edge of the driveway you are turning into. See where the curb slopes down and the driveway begins? That's where you want to line up.

3) Execute

Step 3) Time to execute our 3-Point turn:

First-Point: Pull into the driveway opening on the left.

With our left signal still on and our car lined up with the driveway, it's time to do another set of traffic checks. Obviously check for oncoming traffic, but also check traffic approaching you from behind, and be sure to look to the left and over your left shoulder to make sure the sidewalk and driveway is clear. If everything is safe, crank your wheel all the way to the left as you slowly roll forward. You should literally be moving at a slow walking pace, using the accelerator very little and covering the brake when you can. As your car enters the opening of the driveway, you can begin to straighten out your wheels. Brake as you enter the driveway so that you don't "bottom-out" and scrape the driveway. Keep in mind, the driveway you are targeting is someone's private property, so don't actually pull fully into their driveway. Not only is it rude, but it could also be considered trespassing. You want to stop your vehicle as soon as you feel your front tires entering the driveway, make sure not to go past the sidewalk at all.

Second-Point: Back out of the driveway.

This second part of a 3-Point turn is the most dangerous because you must back into traffic. Put your car into reverse, but before you begin backing up do a 360-degree check all around your vehicle. If all is clear, then crank your steering wheel all the way to the right as you slowly back out into traffic. Again, keep your head on a swivel and continue checking all around you, paying the most attention directly behind you. Only back up as far as needed to get the job done. Once you determine you have enough room to re-enter traffic easily, stop backing up.

Third-Point: Finish 3-Point turn by re-entering traffic.

Now that we have finished reversing, put your vehicle into drive. As you slowly begin to roll forward, crank your wheel quickly all the way to the left to begin returning to traffic. As your car straightens out, you can turn the steering wheel back to the center position and accelerate a bit more to get up to the appropriate speed. Continue to scan and check for any new obstacles or hazards while you complete your 3-Point turn and return to the normal traffic flow.

There it is -- you have successfully turned your car around with a 3-Point turn using a left-hand driveway!

One quick note just to avoid confusion: you do not NEED a driveway to do a 3-Point turn, but we always recommend it because it gives you more room to work with and makes your life easier, so find a nice wide-open driveway if you can!

Making 2-Point turns

Whereas a 3-Point turn is performed by pulling head-first into a driveway on the left, a 2-Point turn is performed by reversing into a driveway on your right. As you would imagine, there are only two movements involved: you back into a driveway and then pull forward out of the driveway. While they can be a little challenging for driving rookies because backing into a driveway can be tricky, 2-Point turns are actually a little bit safer than 3-Point turns because you avoid backing out into traffic from a driveway. Anyway, enough talk, time for some 2-point action!

1) Assess

Step 1) Assess the Situation: Is this a safe place to make a 2-Point turn? Make sure there are no kids or pedestrians in the driveway or on the sidewalks. Also, is this a legal place to do a turnaround maneuver? Can you see clearly for 200 feet, are you following all the same safety rules for a U-turn? Finally, did you find a good driveway for backing into? Remember, bigger is better and always a smart idea to choose a driveway with no cars or obstacles in it. One last pro-tip: Do this maneuver in the middle of the block, not right near an intersection where a car may suddenly come around the corner.

2) Prepare

Step 2) Prepare for a safe 2-Point turn: Now that you have identified a good driveway to back into, put on your right turn signal to let everyone around you know what your intentions are. As you slow down, check your mirrors for tailgaters. Of course, continue to scan the overall situation for any new hazards or obstacles. You want to drive just past the target driveway on the right, stopping when the back of your car is about lined up with the end of the driveway. This may be hard to determine, but the bigger the driveway you use, the more room you allow for beginner mistakes. Once you have stopped, do another 360-degree scan, and really check over your right shoulder and behind you, making sure there are no kids, pets, or pedestrians in your intended backing path.

3) Execute

Step 3) Time to execute our 2-Point turn:

First-Point: Backing into the driveway opening on the right.

With your right signal still on and all your traffic checks done, put your car in reverse and crank your steering wheel all the way to the right as you SLOWLY begin to roll backwards. Cover your brake the entire time, only using the accelerator when you need to gain a little momentum. Be prepared to stop in case an obstacle should suddenly appear, again continue to look behind you, check your mirrors, and blind spots as you reverse. You can use your right-side mirror to help you gauge your aim -- you can even tilt it down a little to help you see the edge of the driveway.

Once you feel your back tires begin to enter the driveway, you can start to straighten your wheel as you slow down to a stop. Just as before, we don't want to enter someone's private driveway, so make sure you stop when you feel your vehicle's back tires begin to enter the driveway... definitely don't go past the sidewalk.

Second-Point: Finish 2-Point turn by re-entering traffic.

Now that you have finished backing into the driveway entry, put your car into drive, crank your wheel all the way to the left, and switch on your left turn signal to let people know you intend to enter traffic and go to the left. Do a left-right-left traffic check to make sure there is no cross traffic. When the coast is clear, you can gently accelerate into traffic, straightening out your wheel as you fully enter the driving lane. You can accelerate a bit more up to speed as your wheels straighten out.

And there you have it, one more way to get yourself turned around and headed in the other direction -- but this time with a 2-Point turn. As you just witnessed, while the beginning of a 2-Point turn requires a little more skill with backing, finishing a 2-Point turn is quite easy and much safer because you do not have to reverse out into potential cross traffic. At the end of the day, we recommend choosing the safest method you feel most comfortable with given the traffic situation and options available to you. Sometimes that will be a U-turn, but other times a 3-Point or 2-Point turn will be needed.

Ok all you future drivers, as well as you already-driving-drivers of today who are looking to sharpen their skills -- thanks for watching and growing your motoring knowledge with us! We appreciate you all more than you may know... I'd even fist bump y'all right now if it wouldn't hurt my camera lens's feelings so much. So until next time my friends, from Kimberly and everybody at Drivers Ed Direct, please stay safe out there!