Tips for Correct Roundabout Protocol

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Online, Defensive Driving Tips, Rules of the Road: Driving Tips

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Roundabouts are becoming more and more common on American roads, but sometimes even the most seasoned driver can get confused when faced with one of these enigmatic traffic circles. Who gives way to whom? Which direction do you signal? How on earth do you navigate roundabouts with multiple lanes? To help you answer these questions and more, we have put together a handy guide for the correct protocol when driving on a roundabout.

slow on approach

One of the advantages of a roundabout is that it does not stop traffic like a stop sign or a red light would. If a roundabout is empty, you do not have to stop before entering. However, that does mean that you must exercise extra caution on approach, and make sure that it is completely safe before entering. Slow down when you are approaching a roundabout, and if the way is clear, then you can proceed.

give way to the person who is already on the roundabout

The first and most important rule of a roundabout, is that you give way to vehicles that are already occupying it. Just as you would when entering a regular road, you must wait until there is sufficient space to enter the roundabout.

give way to the left

When two or more vehicles approach a roundabout at the same time, you must then give way to the vehicle to the left. Otherwise it is first come, first served.

signal your intent

One of the most common mistakes that people use on roundabouts is signalling incorrectly, or not at all. When used properly, indicators can be an excellent way to increase safety and convenience on a roundabout, by letting those around you know of your intentions. A good rule of thumb is to always signal immediately before your exit, using your right indicator, just as you would when turning. Correct indication on a roundabout goes as follows:

–When turning right (first exit), signal right as with a normal right turn.
–When going straight ahead, no signal upon entering, signal as you approach your exit.
–When turning left (last exit/three-quarters around), signal left upon entering, switch to right as you come to the exit.

when there are two lanes

And just when you think that you’ve mastered the roundabout, along comes one with two lanes circling around it. Dealing with two lanes can be intimidating, but the reality is that it is not all that different from a regular, smaller roundabout. Often there will be a sign indicating which lane you should take, but if not, here are some guidelines:

–If you are turning right (first exit), take the outside lane.
–If you are going straight or the second exit, take the outside lane
–If you are taking a further exit, take the innermost lane and move over prior to your exit, after the first or second exit.

The Washington State Department of Transportation provides these diagrams to help illustrate this:
roundabout_navigating_rt_turn_new_TEXT510px2roundabout_navigating_straight_new_TEXT510px2
roundabout_navigating_lf_turn_new_TEXT510px2roundabout_navigating_u_turn_new_TEXT510px2

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