Stage 1: Turning

Car Turning

When working in a large, empty parking lot, you can still practice turning. You don’t need to hit the streets just yet. However, your teen will probably quickly become bored of working on turns without any “real world” connection.

Slow, wide turns

Start with slow turns with a large arc. Turn around light poles or any other marker you can find. Eventually, try to tighten up the radius of the turn. You’re simply looking for accuracy. Can your teen make the type of turn you ask for? If so, move on to more complicated turning patterns such as full circles and figure-eights. Also, slowly increase the speed.

Be sure to work on both left and right turns equally. When I was learning to drive, I was terrified of left turns. Only by directly facing these fears, can your teen conquer them.

Basic turning procedure

When in a parking lot, you don’t have to worry about other drivers. You also don’t have to worry about traffic lights and pedestrians. So, the step-by-step procedure for turning is much simpler. However, make sure that your teen realizes that once you leave the parking lot and head out to low-traffic residential areas, turning becomes much more complicated.

Here’s how to practice turning in an empty parking:

  • Determine the location of the turn.
  • Activate your turn signal in the direction of the turn.
  • Begin braking as you head into the start of the turn.
  • As you begin turning the wheel, release the pressure on the brake.
  • Through the apex of the turn, there shouldn’t be any pressure on the brake. Instead, apply light pressure to gas pedal as you come out of the turn.
  • Keep your eyes focused on where you wish to go and not fixated on objects you wish to avoid. For instance, if you’re turning around a light pole and are worried about scraping your car, don’t fixate on it. If you stare at the light pole, there’s a good chance you’ll end up crashing directly into it.

Common turning mistakes

New drivers may cut left turns too tight. They also have a tendency to make right turns too wide. Keep an eye out for these tendencies.

Remember this

Once you feel that your teen has exhibited accurate turning in a parking lot, you can move into a low-traffic residential neighborhood. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Brake before entering the turn.
  • Coast during the turn. You shouldn’t brake while turning as this can cause skidding. Basically, asking your tires to slow down and turn at the same time may exceed their traction. The same is true for accelerating while turning.
  • Once you have completed the turn, you can slowly accelerate.

Continue on to the Stage 1: Checklist!


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All information and advice contained within this website is to be taken at your own risk. Nothing contained within this website should be misconstrued as professional driving instruction.