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In Australia when I want to turn around in a street I sometimes use the driveway of private houses to turn in and then then back out again and go the reverse direction on the road. When I go in I don't go past the first 5m of the driveway where the foot path is or the part of the driveway between the mailbox and the road. My UK non driver passenger considers this rude. For Australian resident, is this true? (And also for UK Residents).

The car in the picture is my car and is the limit of the driveway used.

Rough sketch of driveway

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I think what you describe, put more abstractly is this: "Is is rude to drive a short stretch onto a private property to make a u-turn?" [or more precisely, a three-point turn]. I don't know the geometry of Australian driveways, but if there is 5m of room to drive into, then I can't imagine how this could be public land, the owners of the house surely also had to buy the driveway.

To me (Switzerland) this sounds reasonable, but I'm also sure that some people would object to this. And those people who do find it rude probably have the law backing them up in most parts of the world because you are technically trespassing on their property.

But just because someone might find it rude is not enough of a reason not to do it, you should just make sure you don't do it unnecessarily and that you don't damage anything - for example if you drive a heavy vehicle and the driveway is not paved, think twice about it because you could churn it up. Even if it's paved, it possible there are weight restrictions (mainly if there is something underground beneath the driveway) which wouldn't need to be publicly posted because after all it's a private property (although the reason I thought of this is because I have seen such warning signs).

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    I think this is regional... in my part of the US, you don't own the first ~7-10 feet of your driveway. The sidewalk and everything closer to the street is owned by the city. – Catija Jul 20 '17 at 15:07
  • @Catija Assuming that by 7-10 feet you mean the width of a wide sidewalk so that the intersection of the driveway and the sidewalk is public property, then that's just like here in Switzerland. But the OP said 5 meters (15 feet), and that's more than even the widest sidewalks. – Nobody Jul 20 '17 at 19:50
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    Significant difference between a normal passenger vehicle and a commercial vehicle that could cause damage to the driveway here. One is a minor inconvenience, the other is liable to cause significant damage. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard and frankly should never use a residential driveway for this. That significantly changes the question. – Passerby Jul 21 '17 at 1:36
  • USA citizen here. I do the same manuever on occasion, and wouldn't blink an eye at someone doing the same in my driveway. That said, I don't know if it's common enough in the USA for social norms to have formed around it. It's certainly possible someone might get bothered by it, but I would never consider it rude unless you repeatedly used the same driveway. – Jamin Grey Feb 27 '18 at 1:04
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Seeing as you're not actually entering the driveway, and just using the pavement, it isn't "weird" in the sense that doing that is weird. It's not the home owners property anyways, I think the issue your friend is having is that you're not turning in the road correctly (and most importantly you are doing it illegally, and in such a way that would most definitely fail your driving test in the UK)

Regardless of how either of you perceive it though, it's still an illegal maneuver. In the UK, you may only mount a footpath to gain lawful access to a property. Seeing as you are not technically "accessing" the property (you are just using it to turn around) it makes it illegal. Even more, this is not how to do a U-turn. The correct way to turn around would be to do a Turn in the Road, (used to be called a 3-point turn). This is something you should know how to do, as it's something you should know how to do in preparation for a driving test in the UK.

(Source for the mounting on a footpath - Or Highway Code Rule #145, RTA 1998 section 34 or HA Laws 1835 section 72)

(small disclaimer, I believe you may be describing just mounting the footpath, and not actually entering the property or driveway, either way, this answer still applies as just mounting the footpath is still illegal)

  • But sometimes there is parked cars on both sides of the road making a 3 point turn very difficult and sometimes impossible. Is it still illegal in the UK? – Darryn Brisdaz Jul 20 '17 at 13:59
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    @DarrynBrisdaz yes, while making a 3-point turn you cannot even touch the kerb/pavement, doing so is an instant fail in a test. – Crafter0800 Jul 20 '17 at 14:13
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    @AndyT I'm currently learning which is why I know, in terms of the exam touching the kerb is called a "major fault" and is an instant fail. – Crafter0800 Jul 21 '17 at 16:07
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    @Crafter0800: it's a fail on the test because it shows poor skill (or rather, it fails to demonstrate adequate skill within the limited test format). Outside of driving tests, though, I don't think the law actually draws any formal distinction at the point where your tyre touches the kerb. Legally you're "driving on the footpath" or you're not: touching the kerb but in the road is normally going to be fine. I say "normally" because if you hit a pedestrian with your front or rear end overhanging the kerb, I suspect you are "on the footpath" even if your tyres don't touch. – Steve Jessop Jul 23 '17 at 15:21
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    @AndyT took my test just over a year ago, touching the kerb, even lightly, even just because you pressed the clutch slightly too much and rolled back to it, is a instant fail. – djsmiley2k - CoW Jul 30 '17 at 10:02
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This would be rude if there are other options present.

But if not, then it'd be understandable and probably acceptable.

I relate to it based on my own situation in India. Our villa home in the countryside has a narrow road leading to it and the adjacent houses, and until it reaches the main road, there isn't a good place to U-turn. So we've given away a small piece of land in front our gate for cars to take a U-turn, and we've developed a good pavement there for the benefit of others visiting us and our neighbours.

  • I live currently in Dubai, however. – NVZ Jul 23 '17 at 7:50
  • I agree that it really depends whether other options are available. If it is a mountain road with nowhere to do a U-turn for kilometers, this is much more understandable than if you could just go around the block in a minute. – nic Jul 23 '17 at 8:05
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There are answers that it's illegal in the UK. If it's illegal, well, that's it, there is no point in discussing whether an illegal action is rude or not.

But there are other countries in the world. If in your country it is legal to do so (in my country it is totally OK as long as you don't actually enter private property, and private property usually starts in about 5m from the road).

I'd say that if the action is legal, it would be OK, unless you spoil their driveway (e.g. it is rainy and you have mud tires and you know your tires will dig into wet ground thus spoiling the driveway)

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    Public right of way does not mean it's not someone's private property. Public right of way is an easement that is used for pedestrians and utilities. It does not extend to private vehicles. – Passerby Jul 20 '17 at 22:04
  • Hello there! Answers on Interpersonal Stack Exchange need to be supported by credible reference or demonstrated personal experience, as outlined in Do we want references in our answers? Please edit to improve your answer to meet the guidelines listed on meta. – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 19:37
  • Many things are 'illegal' and yet still happen daily. You're not in the UK judging by your answer, so I'm not sure how you feel to be qualified to answer with any reasonable experience about UK law or driving... Anyway I find it interesting that the questioner says the non-driver thinks it's rude. Most drivers realise this is the easiest, and most likely safest way to perform a turn in the road if there's a drive to use. – djsmiley2k - CoW Jul 30 '17 at 10:04
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If your car isn't going further than the boundary of the footpath (as pictured in your diagram) then the manoeuvre does not concern the owner of the driveway as footpaths are public land. However, it is illegal to drive on the pavement. Any pedestrians nearby may find your manoeuvre rude.

I used to have a neighbour who got annoyed with people turning around on their drive halfway down a single-track dead-end road, but in this case people would often go right into the drive and do the entire 3-point turn manoeuvre on their property. I think this drive was particularly popular as it was done up nicely, and was flat and open.

I think it is a question of pride, and indignation of the drive owner, who has possibly spent a lot of money on their drive so that they could benefit from it, not so that random strangers could benefit from it, and also protectiveness over the vehicles, and other property they have stored on their drive, as they did not expect their private property to be put at risk by a random driver, regardless of how careful the random driver is.

Others may take the less-offended opinion that it's not harming anyone as long as you're careful, but it is still a bit rude to turn around in someone's driveway. It's also trespassing, however brief.

My advice would be to find a driveway that looks less-cared-for to turn around in, this probably means the owners are more casual about it.

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This can be considered trespassing. In the US, many states even have a law where using private property without permission to bypass a traffic control device, i.e. cutting through a corner business lot to get around a no turn on red sign, it's a separate offense. Here, you may be using the driveway because a normal U turn is illegal, so a cop may fine you. Then again, the New York DMV officially suggests using a driveway to turn around if needed.

Let's be clear though, regardless of the legality of it, it is rude, but it is also a very minimal issue. Somethings legal status does not reflect on the social expectations of it. Just keep it short and don't have your headlights on full or high beams on and it really won't be an issue to most people. Or just don't do it. Unless you are on a very narrow street that goes for miles without a turn around or cross street, there is no reason to do so.

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    FWIW, in the UK the section of footpath marked on the diagram with the car in it would not be private property. Except perhaps in some rare circumstances (unincorporated roads, for example), the property boundary will be the line marked "fence". Of course, if the footpath is less wide than the car is long, the diagram cannot apply and it's not entirely clear whether the questioner is asking about going further into the drive and therefore crossing the boundary. – Steve Jessop Jul 23 '17 at 15:26
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    There may be a genuine difference here with the US. I understand that in the US it is common to build fences, walls and so on well inside your property boundary: with an allowance between the fence and the legal boundary. In the UK it's most common in urban areas to build right up on the boundary, so the outer edge of any fencepost or wall is placed to mark the boundary. Of course the consequence of this is that people's hedges grow out and obstruct the footpath, but there it is. – Steve Jessop Jul 23 '17 at 15:39
  • @Steve only in areas where sidewalks exist. Not all areas have easements for right of public way. In the US that property is still private, owned by the deed holder, but the easement forces them to open it to the public, and maintain it. fixing cracked sidewalks, maintaining the grass, clearing the snow, under penalty of law if you fail to do so. From what I understand the same occurs in the UK, based on common "common law" roots. – Passerby Jul 23 '17 at 19:35
  • Like I say there are rare exceptions, but no, on the whole in the UK the same doesn't occur. The pavements/sidewalks are owned and maintained by local councils or the Highway Authority. There's a process for private land to be given over when new estates are built and suchlike. If you're out on a country lane and there's no footpath then sure, the verge at the side of the road might belong to the adjacent landowner. There do exist public rights of way across private land, but the pavement at the side of a public residential street isn't that. – Steve Jessop Jul 23 '17 at 22:35
  • Hello there! Answers on Interpersonal Stack Exchange need to be supported by credible reference or demonstrated personal experience, as outlined in Do we want references in our answers? Please edit to improve your answer to meet the guidelines listed on meta. As I see you've answered with a different geographic region than the one listed in the answer, please connect how your answer is relevant to the question at hand. – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 19:35
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I think that whether this is rude or not really depends on the context. While I would not normally use someone else's property to turn around, there are a couple of cases where I think it is reasonable:

  1. If you have some familiarity with the neighborhood and the people that live there. I've got a relative that I visit that lives on a dead-end block with no good place to turn around. As their own driveway is often blocked, I must use the driveway of someone else to turn around when I leave. I think this is fine because the relative knows her neighbors and is on good terms with them. If they were to see, the neighbor might even recognize my vehicle, and they probably would not mind that I used their drive.
  2. Where it's physically prohibitive to do do otherwise. A good example is if you are on a long country road that is narrow with deep ditches on both sides. Often the only way to turn around is to use the turnout to someone's driveway unless you want to go many miles out of your way.
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I live in Texas, US. I consider it rude. It's not the actual car in the driveway that's the issue, it's the "I don't recognize this stranger's vehicle pulling into my driveway". I immediately go into a mode of expecting solicitors or worse, and make sure the dogs are ready to put up a good bark. Just because I'm in a neighborhood that doesn't allow me to put a front privacy fence doesn't mean I want every Tom, Dick, and Harry coming in to try and sell me something or preach at me. It doesn't really make it any better that the driver later backs out of the driveway. I personally will go well out of my way to not turn around in someone's driveway.

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