Traffic circles, roundabouts, and rotaries are popping up all over the world, no matter what you call them. This might be a good time to take a refresher course on how to drive through a roundabout.
(The following is directly quoted from New York State Department of Motor Vehicles - Driver's Manual.)
HOW TO DRIVE THROUGH A ROUNDABOUT A “roundabout” or “traffic circle” is a round intersection with a small diameter that makes drivers decrease speed, normally to 30 mph or less. Vehicles travel counterclockwise around a raised center island, with entering traffic yielding the right-of-way to traffic already circulating in the roundabout. Studies show a roundabout can reduce the number and severity of accidents at an intersection, compared to intersections controlled by stop signs or traffic signals. Roundabouts, or rotaries, are now more common in New York State and other states.
When using roundabouts or traffic circles:
• As you get near the roundabout, look for the street and direction signs you need. This will help you know which exit to take. These signs will be provided along the roadside before you reach the entrance to the roundabout. Slow down when you enter the roundabout. A sign, like the one on the left above, warns of a roundabout.
• When you arrive at the roundabout, yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians and bicyclists. You must also yield to any drivers who were in the roundabout before you. Sometimes a stop sign or traffic signal will control your point of entry. When the traffic level allows enough space and time, you can enter the roundabout in a counterclockwise direction.
• While inside the roundabout, remain in your lane until you are ready to exit. Use your right turn signal to let the other users know your intention to move from the “inside path” to the “outside path”, or if you are in position to exit now. Start to signal at the exit BEFORE the one you want to take. Do not change lanes or take an exit before you check for vehicles that may be continuing through the roundabout in the lane next to you or behind you. Expect vehicles to be in the “blind spots” you cannot see in your mirrors.
There are a couple of points I would like to reiterate as I happen to live less than five miles away from no less than three traffic circles and drive through two, five times a week, and it is clear to me that many drivers do not know the proper way to drive through them.
First, the manual says roundabouts make "drivers decrease speed, normally to 30 mph or less." It's less. Less is best in this situation. In the circles I drive through, the suggested speed is 15 MPH. No one should be barreling through a circle, ever. There are yield signs which mean the driver should be prepared to stop. You are not prepared to stop with your foot on the gas going 30 MPH.
Second, the most important thing you can do, not just when driving through a circle but where ever you are driving is to USE YOUR TURN SIGNALS! When you are ready to leave the circle, "Start to signal at the exit BEFORE the one you want to take." This lets people waiting to enter the circle knows that you are leaving! It is not only written in the manual about how you should be exiting. It is polite. As often as I drive around circles, the number of people who use their signals is easily less than 1%. By signaling, you can make travel around a circle smoother and safer for everyone.
If it has been a few years that you have had your license, don't be surprised if some of your bad habits have become standard in your driving. Take a few minutes to reread the driver's manual. (A link to New York State's Driver's Manual PDF is here. I am very sure a quick "google" search will help you to find your own state's manual.)
The world is crazy and there are so many dangers out there these days. Don't be one of those dangers. Refresh your memory on the proper protocols for driving and break bad habits quickly. Let's lookout for one another. Slow down. Use your signals and pack your patience. We could all use some kindness.
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