A modern roundabout is a type of raised intersection that has no traffic lights. Roundabouts are designed to improve traffic flow while reducing crashes.
How to Drive in a Roundabout
When you enter a roundabout, never merge. The right-of-way is observed at the yield sign, and motorists already in the roundabout have the right-of-way. Always slow down or stop to yield to traffic approaching from the left. Once there is a gap in traffic, you can proceed into the roundabout.
Also remember to always go SLOW!
S – Slow down to 15-25 mph when entering the roundabout
L – Let vehicles already in the roundabout have the right-of-way
O – Obey all one-way signs
W – Watch out for pedestrians, bicyclists, emergency vehicles, or larger vehicles
When driving in a roundabout, the same general rules apply as when driving through a standard type intersection. Follow these steps to safely drive in a roundabout:
- Slow down and obey traffic signs.
- Yield to any bicyclists or pedestrians.
- Yield to traffic coming from your left that are already in the roundabout.
- Enter the roundabout when there is a large enough gap in traffic.
- Keep your speed low throughout the roundabout.
- As you are approaching your exit, use your right turn signal.
- Yield to any bicyclists or pedestrians as you exit the roundabout.
Driving a Roundabout with Two or More Lanes
If a roundabout has more than one lane, choose the proper lane before you enter. As you approach the roundabout entrance, it is very important that you observe the signs, arrows, and pavement markings to determine which lane to use before you enter. On the side of the road, you can find black and white signs with arrows that will show you the correct lane in which to drive.
Generally, if you want to make a left turn, you should be in the left lane, and if you want to make a right turn, you should be in the right lane. If you want to go straight, observe the signs and arrows, and choose the correct lane.
Use the following guidelines when using multiple lanes:
- Right-Hand Turns: Travel in the right-hand lane and use your turn signal.
- Left-Hand Turns: Travel in the left-hand lane and use your turn signal.
- Continuing Forward: Remain in the same lane you entered.
- Missed Exits: Continue circling around the roundabout again until you reach your exit.
Emergency Vehicles in a Roundabout
When driving in a roundabout, yield to emergency vehicles. If you haven’t yet entered the roundabout, pull over and allow the emergency vehicle to pass you. If you are already in the roundabout, continue to your exit and then pull over allowing the emergency vehicle to pass you. Avoid stopping in the roundabout.
Large Vehicles in a Roundabout
Large vehicles will typically need more space to maneuver in a roundabout. All drivers should be cautious and avoid driving directly next to or passing a large truck while approaching and driving through a roundabout.
Pedestrians in a Roundabout
When you cross a roundabout, first check for traffic coming from your left. Once you cross the road and are safely to the middle island, check traffic coming from your right before you proceed to the opposite side.
Drivers are required to yield to any pedestrian crossing in a roundabout. However, it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe to cross, and drivers can see you and are aware of your presence before proceeding to cross.
There are many safety benefits associated with roundabouts. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there has been a 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes, a 75 percent reduction in injury crashes, a 30-40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes, and a 10 percent reduction in bicycle crashes. There has also been an 30-50 percent increase in traffic capacity.
Roundabouts also make for quieter neighborhoods. There is no signal equipment to install or repair at a roundabout, and there is a reduction in fuel use and pollution.
Common Mistakes in a Roundabout
When you understand how a roundabout works, it is very easy to navigate. But if you are unfamiliar with the area or where you are going, it can cause you to make a mistake which could lead to a traffic ticket. Some of the common mistakes that can lead to a citation include the following:
- Entering a roundabout without yielding to oncoming traffic – When you enter a roundabout, you are required to yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. If you force another driver to slam on their brakes or swerve to another lane, you can not only be cited for failure to yield, but it is also an easy way to cause a collision.
- Crossing a lane of traffic to get to your exit – Just as it’s important to stay in your lane on a normal road or highway, keeping in your lane in a roundabout is equally as important. You can disrupt the flow of traffic or cause a collision by making a dangerous lane change. You can also be cited for an unsafe lane change.
- Stopping in the middle of the roundabout – Roundabouts are designed to keep traffic moving, and if you stop while in the roundabout for seemingly no reason, it can cause a collision.
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