Roundabouts

Overview:

to know how to use roundabouts safely and confidently

Aims:

To know and understand the rules that apply for roundabouts, both when approaching them and using them

Objectives:

  • To understand the rules of priority when using roundabouts
  • To know how to safely use roundabouts
  • To be aware of potential hazards at roundabouts
  • To understand mini roundabouts, spiral roundabouts and multiple roundabouts 

Roundabouts allow traffic from different roads to merge or cross safely and without necessarily stopping. There are various rules that need to be followed to ensure yours and others safety.

Priority at roundabouts

When entering a roundabout you normally give way to any traffic to your immediate left. If the road ahead is clear you should keep moving.

Occasionally traffic on a roundabout has to give way to traffic entering. Look out for ‘give way’ road markings and signs on the roundabout.

Roundabouts will sometimes have traffic lights on them to determine priority. Any traffic light signals should be observed and followed.

Always use your Mirror, Signal and Manoeuvre routine when approaching any roundabout.

Approaching a roundabout:

Always look ahead for advance warning signs. At a large or complicated roundabout this will help you to plan the layout of the road and roundabout ahead. The signs will help you to select the most suitable lane as you approach the roundabout.

  • Use Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine at all stages of approach
  • Always get into the correct lane in plenty of time
  • Avoid changing lanes at the last moment
  • Do not straddle two lanes as this may be dangerous and confuse other road users
  • If possible, look across the roundabout to see the exit you want to take

When entering and leaving a roundabout:

When entering a roundabout always ensure the traffic in front of you has moved off first. The big problem for most learners is how to move onto a roundabout when there is traffic on it.

Look early and know where you are going. Lots of learners don’t look for any gaps until they are at the roundabout. By looking early you can identify a gap and possibly be able to drive into it. Remember the drivers to your right waiting to pull out are also looking to their right.

Unless the road signs or markings tell you otherwise always follow the procedure of:

When going left:

  • Indicate left as you approach
  • Ensure you are in the left hand lane as you approach
  • Keep to the left hand lane when travelling around the roundabout
  • Continue using a left signal as you move around the roundabout

When going ahead:

  • No signal is necessary as you approach
  • Approach in the left hand lane
  • Keep to your lane on the roundabout
  • Check your mirrors, especially the near side exterior mirror
  • Indicate left only after passing the exit before the one you will take

When going right or full circle:

  • Indicate right as you approach
  • Approach in the right hand lane
  • Keep to the right and keep indicating right
  • Check your mirrors, especially the near side exterior mirror
  • Indicate left only after passing the exit before the one you will take

Hazards at roundabouts:

Always be especially aware of:

  • Pedestrians who are waiting to cross the road.
  • Crossings are often found near roundabout junctions. Remember if the crossing is light controlled this is for the crossing and you may still have to give way before moving on to the roundabout.
  • Cyclists and horse riders who will often keep to the outside of the roundabout even if they are intending to turn right. Always allow extra room
  • Motorcyclists and cyclists who can be difficult to see on roundabouts
  • Long vehicles due to their length may need to straddle two lanes as they move around a roundabout. Watch out for their signals and leave additional room
  • Other vehicles in the wrong lane which could be crossing your path on a roundabout
  • The road surface which can be slippery, especially in wet weather. Avoid harsh braking or accelerating

Mini roundabouts: 

Approach a mini roundabout in the same way as any other roundabout. Slow down and be prepared to give way to traffic from the right.

Remember on a mini roundabout there is less time to signal and less space to manoeuvre your car.

When using mini roundabouts be aware of:

  • Vehicle’s coming towards you may be turning right, always give way to them
  • Drivers who are using the roundabout to make a U turn
  • Large vehicles or those towing a trailer may be unable to use the roundabout without crossing road markings

On a double mini roundabout, treat each as a separate roundabout. Give way to traffic on your right and observe all around you before entering the roundabout.

Spiral roundabouts:

A spiral roundabout is different to other roundabouts as the lanes spiral outwards from the centre. Each lane will have a designated exit. Road markings will tell you which lane to keep to and guide you to the appropriate exit.

On a spiral roundabout:

  • Make sure you are in the correct lane as you approach
  • Follow the road markings for the lane to your exit
  • Be aware of vehicles who may want to join your lane
  • If you need to change lanes, always check it is safe to do so and signal to tell other drivers

Multiple Roundabouts:

At some complex junctions, a large roundabout can be made of several mini roundabouts at each intersection.

Each mini roundabout follows the normal rules and traffic will be travelling clockwise around them. Traffic moving around the central roundabout however, will be moving anti clockwise direction.

At each mini roundabout look and assess the situation and look for direction signs in advance.

These are complicated intersections that require extreme care and concentration. Lanes, signs and road markings will give directions.

Recap

Always use Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine at each stage of using a roundabout.

Give way to traffic from the right, unless priority is controlled by traffic lights.

Remember that large vehicles may not be able to use the roundabout without straddling two lanes and allow them plenty of room.

Be aware of pedestrians crossing near roundabouts and look out for cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.

Always ensure you have planned and anticipated the lane you will need to be in, by looking at signs and road markings.

You should:

  • Know the priority and position to take at a roundabout
  • Be able to safely enter and leave a roundabout
  • Be aware of what hazards there can be at roundabouts
  • Understand the different sorts of roundabouts

Further Reading:

The Highway Code Rule(s): 184-190

Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 8

On your driving test:

On test: Roundarounbouts

Assessment criteria:

This will be the same as Assessment criteria: Junctions

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