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How do you navigate a roundabout safely?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | car accidents

Roundabouts – those circular interchanges that are created in areas to keep traffic flowing around a central island – are emerging as a popular alternative to traditional intersections in many congested areas. 

However, roundabouts are still relatively a new thing. While they seem to be cropping up everywhere these days, they’re more common in some areas than others. Carmel, Indiana, for example, is just a small city, but it has more than 138 roundabouts – while the entire nation is estimated to only have around 9,000.

Here’s the trick to a roundabout

In roundabouts, drivers entering the circle must yield to vehicles already circulating within it. The merging process is continuous and ongoing as vehicles enter and exit the roundabout, but it does not follow the same zipper merge pattern seen on highways.

To manage a roundabout:

  • Approach with caution: As you approach a roundabout, reduce your speed and be prepared to yield to vehicles already inside the circle. Pay attention to signs indicating lane markings, entry points and directional arrows.
  • Yield to circulating vehicles: When entering the circle, you have to yield to the vehicles already moving within it. Wait for a gap in the traffic before you move forward into the flow and merge. Remember, the drivers already inside the circle have the absolute right-of-way.
  • Use your turn signals: Signal your intentions to other drivers by using your turn signals appropriately. You absolutely should signal right when preparing to exit onto the next road.
  • Watch your speed: While entering and moving through the roundabout, maintain a consistent speed that goes with the flow of traffic. Avoid sudden stops or changes in direction that could surprise other drivers. Adhere to posted speed limits and watch for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Stay in your lane: Most roundabouts are wide enough to accommodate both passenger vehicles and trucks, but they aren’t actually “double lanes” unless marked. Stick to the right and don’t try to create a lane where there isn’t one.

Most drivers quickly get used to roundabouts and come to appreciate them for their ease of use – but accidents still happen. If you’re injured in a wreck in a roundabout, it’s always wisest to seek more information about your right to compensation for your losses.