A five-point turn (Y turn or K turn) is a vehicular maneuver that involves turning around in the middle of a narrow roadway.
It is typically used on a long stretch of road where there is nowhere else to safely turn around.
The five-point turn (or 5-point turnaround) is basically a modified 3-point turn.
It uses the same general technique as a 3-point turn, but involves reversing the vehicle an additional time to compensate for the narrow space in which it must be performed.
It looks like this –
Knowing how to do a 5-point turn is especially important on roads with drop-offs, where turning too far in either direction might carry you off the edge of the road.
How To Do a 5-Point Turn (5-Point Turn Steps)
A five-point turn (Y turn) starts just like a three-point turn.
It requires a strong turn to rotate the vehicle as far as possible on the first leg, a strong turn while backing, a strong turn while moving forward again, another strong turn backing, and then another forward turn into the lane.
To perform a five-point turnaround:
- Look at the roadway ahead as far as possible and check your rearview and side mirrors to ensure the roadway is fully clear both ahead of and behind you. (A five-point turn takes several seconds, so you should only perform one on a completely empty road.)
- Pull as near to the side of the road you are driving on as possible. Be sure to leave at least a couple inches clearance at the edge to give your tires room to turn. (It’s safe practice to stop at this point and check the roadway and mirrors again before starting into the turn.)
- Give your steering wheel a sharp turn to the left as you press the gas, turning toward the opposite side of the road. Keep this turn as tight as possible.
- Stop before going off the opposite side of the road. Ideally, leave several inches at the front of your vehicle to be safe. Your passenger-side tire will be nearest to the edge of the road.
- Put the car into reverse and turn the steering wheel sharply to the right as you press the gas. Back up until the tire you can see (the driver’s side tire) is a few inches from the edge of the road.
- Return the car to drive. Turn the wheel sharply to the left. Pull forward again, leaving enough space at the front of your car that you won’t go off the edge of the road.
- Return the car to reverse. Turn the wheel sharply to the right. Back up until your driver’s side tire is a few inches from the edge of the road. (At this point, you should have enough clearance to turn fully into the lane you want to travel in. If not, repeat forwarding and backing as many times as necessary to ensure adequate clearance to turn into the lane.)
- Put the car into drive. Drive forward in the appropriate lane.
5-point Turn Driving Test
No state requires a five-point turn on their driving tests.
Some states do, however, require three-point turns in lieu of parallel parking.
That doesn’t mean you won’t end up performing a five-point turn during a driving test.
Knowing what to do if you get stuck in a 3-point turn (your turns aren’t tight enough, the road is too narrow) can help you pass this portion of the exam.
When practicing a three-point turn for a driving test, it doesn’t hurt to practice a five-point turn as well.
Not all testers will pass you if you don’t nail the three-point turn exactly, but some will. And it’s a good driving skill to have anyway.
Risks of a Five-Point Turn
Of all the ways to turn around while driving, turning in the middle of the road is the most dangerous.
The more turns you tack onto that turnabout, the more dangerous it becomes.
The greatest risk in a 5-point turn comes from how long it leaves your vehicle in the middle of the road.
During a five-point turn, just as with its companion the three-point turn, you also block BOTH lanes of traffic.
Due to this, you must pay attention to traffic on both sides of the road at all times.
Ideally, you would only use this turn on a sparse route with few businesses or houses and no other places to turn around.
If there are adjacent roads or drives, a two-point turn is almost always the safer option.
Five-point turns are good for lightly-trafficked roads with good visibility where no other options are available.