Learning to drive is a right of passage that marks a new chapter in a persons life.  Armed with a full L Plate on the roadCredit: © Christopher King | Dreamstime.comvalid driving license, the once former learner driver is no longer bound by the constraints of sank's pony or having their daily excursions revolve around public transport timetables.  I can remember the day when I joined the ranks of the motoring fraternity, getting my driving license at the first attempt.   I am not sure how much luck was involved in this feat, however I do recall that the pivotal moment for me was the successful execution of the three point turn; the art of making an about turn in your vehicle using forward and reverse gears.

Practice Your Turns

As with learning any new skill, practice makes perfect.  So to prepare yourself for this particular part of the driving test you will need to find a stretch of road that has virtually no traffic, not unlike some of my Infobarrel articles.

This does not mean that you should find some isolated and desolate road that leads to the house on the hill.  A quiet cul de sac or an industrial estate will do.  We have a lot of new housing being built near where we live which provides an ideal place for the trainee driver to practice in relative peace, as come the evenings and weekends the new roads are virtually empty, except for the odd joyrider and kamazee kangaroo.

Pointers for a Three Pointer

Once you have selected a suitable practice area you can perfect your ability to turn the car around on a dime by following a few simple pointers:

  • Park the car near to the kerb and take a good look around to make sure the road is clear.  Use all mirrors and check over your shoulder before you start, just to make sure that there are no wayward cyclists lurking in your blind spot.
  • Engage the throttle and ease forward slowly while at the same time feed the steering wheel through your hands so that the car is turning at full lock by the time you reach halfway across the road.
  • Just before you reach the opposite kerb, turn the steering wheel to half lock in the opposite direction.  This may sound counter-intuitive, but this will help you a great deal on the next stage.

You should now find yourself on the opposite side of the road with the car at an angle of about 45 degrees to the side of the road with the front wheels facing inward towards the kerb.

  • Enage reverse gear and gently ease the car back, remembering to keep a keen eye on what is in your mirrors as well as any traffic that may be approaching from the front.

A three point turn is only deemed to have been completed successfully if you avoid hitting either kerbsides or any other road users.

  • As you reverse back, straighten up the front wheels and and align the car so that it is now parallel with the side of the road.

You will find that this stage is made so much easer by the change of direction employed at the last minute in the previous maneuver.

  • The final stage is to move the car forward and park up on what is now the other side of the road from where you started.

Getting Your Mind in Gear

As well as reaping the rewards from constant practice, you will also benefit from a little psychological preparation.  Place a vivid image in your mind of you actually completing a three stage about turn each time that you attempt this challenge.

Without this self affirmation, the task ahead of you will be made more difficult.  Just before I was asked to perform the three point turn in my driving exam I convinced myself that I could pull this manouever off by pausing for a brief moment.  I created an image in my mind where I was sat in my car on the other side of the road, facing in the opposite direction without having been involved in a collision of any kind.

Up until that point I was a clammy palmed bag of nerves with the demeanour of Mr Magoo on amphetamines, however after settling myself and pulling the car around just as I had imagined I would, I was able to complete the remainder of the driving exam with a greater degree of confidence.

An odd Postscript

For some reason the standard issue attire for driving examiners back then included a tweed brown check jacket.  I'm not sure if that is still the uniform of choice, but perhaps that is a topic for another InfoBarrel article.

Good luck.