It’s been a while since you’ve visited your grandparents at Sentara Village, and you had forgotten how peaceful it is driving up Old Oak Grove. As you approach Green Tree, you start to recall the late night summer drives you used to go on as a teenager.
Suddenly, you’re pulled out of your reminiscing when you notice strange road signs that look the top of Indiana Jones’ staff in Raiders of the Lost Ark—arrows splitting off into semicircles, indicating different lanes. Then you realize the stressful truth. The signs are marking the upcoming roundabout that you completely forgot was ahead.
The closer you get to it, the more flustered you become as you try to remember how you’re supposed to navigate through it.
Roundabout Rules and Tips
Extremely common in Europe, roundabouts are beginning to make an impact throughout the United States to lessen traffic congestion in popular areas. They ease stop-and-go traffic by instigating a counterclockwise flow at intersections, eliminating the need to have to stop to allow oncoming traffic to turn. This system is not only a faster way to traverse intersections, but also safer.
The problem? Many people get confused about what lane they need to be in at what time and how to make their way around to get where they need to be. However, once you know how to navigate them, roundabouts will not only be faster and more convenient, but also safer than ordinary intersections.
Some useful guidelines:
- Check for pedestrians in the crosswalk before approaching the roundabout. Crosswalks are generally several feet in front of roundabouts, as opposed to intersection crosswalks that are precisely at the turn points.
- Before entering the roundabout, make sure you always yield to any and all traffic already in the circle.
- For two (or more) lane roundabouts, make sure you’re in the proper lane for your exit point as soon as you enter; you should never change lanes in the roundabout, so make sure you’re in the lane you need to be in at the beginning
- Remain in the outer lane to turn right or continue straight.
- Use the left (or inner lane) to go straight, turn left, or make a u-turn. When turning left or making a u-turn, continue around the entirety of the circle (proceeding counterclockwise) until your exit.
- Once you’re in a roundabout, never stop; they’re meant to flow continuously.
- When you approach your exit, make sure you signal that you’re getting off, so traffic behind you will know you’ll be slowing down instead of continuing around the circle.
The thought of driving through roundabouts can definitely be daunting if you’re not used to them. However, once you get the procedure down, know how to pay attention to posted signs and road markings, and actually drive through one, you’ll see that this system is actually a lot more efficient and safer than regular stop-and-go intersections. Just remember to breathe and follow the rules; as long as everyone else in the circle is doing the same, you should be able to navigate through it without difficulties.
Keep your family and friends from getting stuck in a loop while keeping our streets clear and safe—share this page via Facebook or Twitter to help promote the understanding of proper roundabout procedures.