How to Safely Drive in a Roundabout
Roundabouts are a common sight in Europe and other nations, but the concept is still fairly new in most areas throughout the United States.
If you’re not sure how to drive in a roundabout, it’s important to understand how to navigate these traffic circles safely.
Read on to learn more about what a this circular traffic pattern is and how you can use them in a safe way so that these traffic helpers become something you’ll love to drive through.
What is a Roundabout?
A roundabout is a circular-shaped intersection where drivers move counterclockwise around a center point. You won’t find any traffic signals or stop signs in most modern versions. Instead, every driver yields at the entry of the roundabout to other traffic.
Once you enter, you may go into the intersection and then come out at your desired street to head toward your destination. The Federal Highway Administration studied them and found that they’re capable of increasing traffic capacity by as much as 50 percent when compared to regular, more traditional intersections.
A traffic circle is a much larger version of a roundabout and usually includes stop signs or traffic signals to keep the flow of traffic under control. The famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris is a classic, well-known example of a traffic circle. If too many vehicles enter a traffic circle at once, it can become congested.
You may also see a much smaller design in certain neighborhoods called a calming traffic circle. These miniature versions are designed to slow traffic speeds down to reduce the chances of an accident. They are not made to suit larger trucks and vehicles.
How to Drive in a Roundabout: An Easy Guide
As American cities become more populated, you may start to notice an increase in these road designs in busy intersections. If you’re not sure how to drive in a roundabout, it’s important to understand the rules so you can get through it safely and without incident.
One of the most important things you can do is remember to yield to other drivers when you’re in a roundabout. Stay in your lane and don’t change lanes, as this can cause a serious accident or backup.
Never stop when you’re driving inside the circle, but always go with the flow of traffic instead. If possible, avoid driving directly beside over-sized and large vehicles.
Since the design consists of basically one continuous turn, it can be more difficult for trucks and semis to make the entire turn without slightly entering the next lane over. Give large vans, trucks, and emergency vehicles the extra room they need to enter and exit a multi-lane traffic circle safely.
When approaching a roundabout, there should be a sign notifying you that there’s a single-lane roundabout ahead. The sign should also display the advised speed limit, so pay close attention as you make your approach. Always look for pedestrians in the crosswalk, and slow down whenever you approach.
As soon as you see a gap in traffic, enter the roundabout and drive at the correct speed limit until you reach your exit. On the occasion where there’s no traffic in the lanes, you can go ahead and enter the circle without yielding first. Always use your turn signal whenever you approach your exit.
There should be two signs if you approach a multi-lane roundabout. One is the yellow “roundabout ahead” sign, and the other should be a black and white “lane choice” sign that indicates you need to choose a lane before you enter the roadway.
Generally, you should enter a multi-lane roundabout the same way you’d enter a multi-lane intersection. Look to your left and yield to other drivers when you see the dashed yield line. You must always yield to both lanes of traffic in any multi-lane situation, so proceed with caution.
A typical intersection can be dangerous, especially when you have several drivers traveling through it at once. However, since most Americans aren’t familiar with roundabouts, the common consensus is that they’re much more dangerous.
The truth is that they’re significantly safer than a regular intersection for several reasons. First, there are a lot fewer areas where a vehicle can hit another one within one. These traffic patterns are also able to eliminate the left turn against oncoming traffic, which is one of the most dangerous aspects of a regular intersection. When a vehicle tries to “beat the red light” at an intersection, the consequences can be deadly.
The perception that these things are dangerous may actually help to prevent accidents. Most drivers who don’t know how to use them will exercise more caution and are much more likely to yield as they drive through one. And, because the pattern of traffic is in a circular flow, the odds of someone getting t-boned is close to zero.
In general, motorists who travel through these types of traffic circles do so at slower speeds. The circular shape of the road makes people naturally slow down. Driving at slower speeds automatically means there will be fewer or at least less serious accidents.
Get Ready for Roundabouts
Once you know how to drive in a roundabout, it’s easy to see just how many benefits these traffic patterns provide. Remember to always obey the speed limit, yield to traffic, and give larger vehicles plenty of room.
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