Round and round we go . . . where we stop nobody knows!
Definition of a Roundabout: A circular arrangement constructed at the intersection of two or more roads in order to facilitate the passage of vehicles from one road to another.
Roundabouts are designed to keep the flow of traffic moving more steadily. I is also a proven fact that roundabouts reduce side impact collisions, and the severity of those accidents at intersections. Traffic generally slows down to under 20 mph entering a roundabout verses the normal speed one would travel through a regular four way intersection. (Generally 30, 40 or 50 mph at a normal stoplight controlled intersection.)
The roundabout design generated in Europe and has been used on the East Coast for many years. In the last ten years we have been seeing an increasing number of roundabout in western states and sprinkled around Northern Colorado. They have been placed in small neighborhoods and at large volume intersections. They have worked well at increasing the flow of traffic through intersections.
Although, the traffic seems to flow well at times, sometimes I feel like I am risking my life on a roundabout. I lived in England for a year and I tell you, everyone knows the roundabout protocol and you actually feel safe negotiating through a roundabout. Roundabouts work well as long as everyone knows what to do and does it.
Unfortunately there are some people, out there, that have a "Me First" attitude, and this shows when it comes to roundabouts. It is these same people who don't yield the right of way and decide not to stop or slow down and blaze right into the roundabout with reckless abandonment.
Yield Going Into the Roundabout: FYI-Drivers in the circle are not supposed to let people in. It is the vehicle entering the roundabout that is supposed to yield and wait their turn to enter the roundabout. By blazing in, it makes the person on the roundabout stop. There may be another vehicle behind them expecting the flow to be uninterrupted and can cause an accident. Let me repeat: CARS IN THE ROUNDABOUT HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!
Use Your Indicators: Signal your intended route as you approach the roundabout. The proper use of turn indicators is critical in a roundabout. The indicator tells other drivers what you intend to do, which means they know whether they have to yield to you or whether you'll be exiting the roundabout before you cross their path (in which case they can proceed forward).
If you are turning right (taking the first exit from the roundabout)
- Approach in the right lane (if there are multiple lanes)
- Signal right as you approach the roundabout
- Continue to signal right as you pass through and leave the roundabout.
If you are going straight (second exit)
- Approach in either lane (assuming there are two lanes)
- Signal left, (indicate you are going around the roundabout past the first turn.
- Signal right after you have passed the first exit and before you reach the second exit
- Continue your right signal as you leave the roundabout.
If you are turning left (third exit of a 4 way intersection, going 270 degrees around the roundabout):
- Approach in the left lane (assuming there are two lanes)
- Signal left, (indicating you are going around the roundabout past the first and second turn.
- Continue signaling left as you go around.
- Activate your right signal after you pass the exit before the one you want.
- Continue to signal right as you exit.
NOTE: These directions are different if you are in a country with a right hand drive vehicle and drive on the left side of the road.
Going The Wrong Way: If you want to turn left (right in some countries) you have to go three quarters of the way around. Roundabouts are a one way street. Do not attempt to take the short cut to your left and cut across the roundabout. You may be faced with oncoming traffic.
Don't Stop: The whole purpose of the roundabout is to keep traffic flowing. Unless someone cuts you off or there is an accident, keep driving. If you miss your turn, the good news is that you can go around and come back to the turn you want. It is all right to go around again.
Look Before You Leap: This old adage is true on roundabouts. As you are approaching, yield and look before you go. Also, if you are on a multiple lane roundabout and you are in the wrong lane or just decide to turn, make sure there are no other vehicles next to you. Remember, it's OK to go around again. Just take a deep breath, look, and then maneuver yourself into the proper lane to exit.