Traffic roundabouts have been around for a long time, but some areas utilize them more than others. A roundabout is a distinctive roadway design found at intersections, and it guides traffic in one direction around a central circle. Roundabouts reduce the likelihood of a traffic accident by slowing vehicle speeds and increasing the flow of traffic, especially during peak commuting hours. They can have a single lane or multiple lanes. If you’re a driver, it is essential to know how to approach and drive through a roundabout safely.
How to Safely Approach a Roundabout
As you near a roundabout, you may notice a yellow roundabout sign with three arrows forming a circle. This will be posted along with a speed limit. You will also see a dashed line on the pavement at the start of the roundabout, indicating that you should yield to traffic already in the roundabout.
As you approach, slow down to the posted speed limit and watch for pedestrians and other vehicles entering and already in the roundabout. As you join the flow of traffic, be prepared to slow or maintain your speed, depending on the traffic conditions. As you enter the roundabout:
Look to your left and yield to other vehicles already in the roundabout
Do not change lanes as you drive around
Do not stop unless necessary
Do not pass other vehicles
Drive through the roundabout carefully, and remember to use your turn indicator to signal as you exit.
Approaching a Multi-Lane Roundabout
Some roundabouts have multiple lanes of traffic, all flowing in the same direction. This type of intersection has unique signs, as well as the standard yellow roundabout sign and speed limit sign. Multi-lane roundabouts use a large black and white sign which indicates which lane you need to be in, depending on which direction you plan to go when you leave the intersection. You must decide which lane you want to be in before you enter the roundabout.
If you stay in the right lane, you must turn right at the first exit or continue straight ahead. If you move into the left lane, you must exit in the left-hand direction or go completely around the loop to make a U-turn. Do not change lanes in a multi-lane roundabout while you are driving through it. If you do not enter in the correct lane, exit the roundabout when it is safe to do so, turn around, and drive through again using the correct lane.
Large Vehicles and Roundabouts
All types of vehicles use roundabouts, including tractor-trailers, trucks, ambulances, fire engines and delivery trucks. Large trucks may take up space in the adjacent lane, so be sure to give heavy and large vehicles plenty of room, and do not drive next to them. In some roundabouts, there is a designated area of pavement at the center which can accommodate the wheels of larger vehicles when necessary. Do not drive on this area in a regular passenger car.
If you are wary of driving around a roundabout, remember to take your time, read the posted signs carefully, and stay aware of what other vehicles are doing.