Knowing how to turn a car properly can spell the difference between a pleasant ride and an accident. With so many drivers on the road, you would expect most people to know how to turn a car. Alas, there are a few who tend to forget the basics. But what are these basics exactly? We’re here to provide some tips on how to do any kind of turn.
Before anything else though, we have to mention that when writing about these tips, we prioritize safety above all. If you want to learn how to drive like you’re in an action movie, we recommend a stunt school. That aside, here are the different ways on how to turn smoothly and safely.
1. Know your turning radius
Driving a sedan will feel different from driving an SUV or a van. One of these differences is the length of your vehicle which affects turning radius or the smallest distance needed for a car to turn a semi-circle. Obviously, smaller cars will have smaller turning radii than bigger cars. Having a feel for your car’s turning radius helps identify how much clearance you need before making a turn.
To help you visualize this, always assume when you’re driving that you are a long box. The longer the box, the more you have to drag the box into the turn before making the turn. What happens if you underestimate your turning radius? It often means hitting a corner, or even a gutter. Something you’ll definitely want to avoid.
2. Always check your side mirrors
When turning, you want to make sure you’re not hitting anything when you turn. Check your side mirrors constantly when turning. Sometimes there will be someone on a bicycle or motorcycle trying to pass you as you turn. While it’s no issue if they’re not on the side you’re turning to, if they are, it’s dangerous. Make a 2nd or 3rd look before making the turn to make sure. While motorcyclists or cyclists shouldn’t be doing this, some people make mistakes. Better safe than sorry.
Make sure to check both sides. Sometimes another vehicle might be trying to make the same turn as you and cuts you off by mistake. This can happen whether you’re on the innermost/outermost lane or the lane next to it.
While right of way might be an issue here, that’s an article for another day.
3. Signal beforehand.
In conjunction with checking your side mirrors, it’s common etiquette to signal 100 meters before your turn. It can help other motorists like the aforementioned cyclists avoid the side you’re turning into. It also helps to position yourself slightly closer to the side of your lane you’re turning to. However, don’t count on these to be foolproof. There will still be motorists who will be oblivious to this.
4. Stay alert.
This applies to driving in general and doubly so when turning. Check for traffic lights, traffic signs, road arrows, pedestrian lanes, pedestrians, and whatever else you might find on the road. Are you even allowed to make the turn you intend? Be on the lookout for signs like “No left turn,” “No right turn on red signal,” “Vehicles on innermost lane must turn right.” Watch out for traffic enforcers as well. They could be on the road directing traffic or lying in wait for erring drivers.
5. Slow down as you approach, accelerate once clear.
Unlike shifting lanes, you’ll want to be within a cautious or more manageable speed when approaching a turn. This allows you to better do all the above tips. When approaching the turn, you can release the gas to start slowing down. You can also use your brakes if needed.
When you’ve cleared the turn however, you can start to accelerate again. This is actually one way you can minimize congestion at turns. However, use your judgment. When in doubt, slow and steady gets the job done.
That about covers the basics of turning your car. With this, you can handle almost any kind of simple turn. Of course, there’s always more to driving than the basics. Under turning, there’s also the corner turn, the hairpin turn, the u-turn, the two-point turn, and the 3-point turn. Which of these would you like us to cover next? Let us know in the comments! Until then, drive safely and always follow the rules of the road!