If it’s been some years, or even decades, since you took driver’s ed, you may feel some anxiety when you find yourself approaching a roundabout. While they’ve been common throughout the United Kingdom and Europe for many years, they’ve become increasingly popular in California and across the U.S.
These circular intersections have been found to reduce traffic congestion and decrease the number of serious accidents. They require less maintenance than traditional stop signs and lights, and they’re better for the environment because vehicles use more gas when they have to stop, idle and then start up again.
The problem is that many drivers don’t know how to navigate them, and that can result in confusion, frustration and accidents. Here are some things you need to know when you encounter a roundabout:
- Slow down as you approach it.
- Yield to pedestrians and people on bikes in the crosswalks.
- Watch for traffic coming from the left, and yield to it. (Traffic moves counterclockwise through a roundabout.)
- Wait until there’s a gap in traffic to enter.
- Look at the lane markings to determine which lane you want to be in for where you’re going.
- Don’t stop or pass other cars in the roundabout.
- Put on your turn signal before changing lanes and exiting.
- If you miss your exit, go around until you reach it again. (Don’t worry — you won’t end up like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s European Vacation circling a roundabout for hours.)
- Try to avoid driving next to trucks and other large vehicles, as they may need slightly more than one lane.
- Be patient. Some drivers may be dealing with a roundabout for the first time. Honking at them or tailgating them won’t improve the situation for anyone.
While roundabouts may reduce the number of crashes with serious and fatal injuries, vehicles can get in to accidents in and around roundabouts when a driver is distracted, confused or just plain reckless. An at-fault driver can’t escape responsibility because they didn’t know the rules of the road at roundabouts. You still have a right to seek compensation for expenses and damages.