How to correctly use a roundabout
A roundabout is just like an intersection. It's just a different method of getting your car left, right, or straight ahead. Just like an intersection, you need to signal on approach. You also need to signal when you exit the roundabout, to aid the flow of traffic and for the sake of safety. Always yield to traffic on a roundabout. If someone is on the roundabout, then they have right of way over you, no matter what. If you drive out and smash into them, it's 100% your fault. A roundabout will usually have three exits. Ones in Canada aren't on the UK scale (yet) so there's no seven exit mega roundabouts with three sets of traffic lights and a motorway underneath, below and to the side. In Canada, the first exit will take you to the right, the second straight ahead and the third to the left.
[The image shows a left-hand-drive roundabout. The principle is the same for right-hand-drive; you just need to swap sides.]
As you approach, get in the correct lane and signal your intention thus:
- If you want to turn right, then signal right and keep the signal applied exactly as you would turning right from a stop sign or any other intersection.
- If you want to go straight ahead, then do not signal as you approach (most people don't signal anyway, leading me to believe they are always going straight ahead). As you turn onto the roundabout, drive past the first (right turn) exit and then apply your right turn signal. This lets the drivers behind you know you're turning off, but most importantly, the drivers waiting to enter the roundabout know in advance you are leaving so won't have to delay in moving. This helps the flow of traffic on a roundabout.
- If you want to take the left exit, then signal left even as you approach the roundabout. This may confuse people, but that's the way it should be done. Just like a left turn at a standard intersection, a roundabout is no different. As you drive onto the roundabout, keep the left signal applied and pass the right exit. Then, as you pass the straight ahead exit, change your signal to a right turn signal and leave the roundabout. Simple huh?
And if you miss your turn, just go around again. It's not illegal. In fact, it's one of the advantages of a roundabout. So remember:
- Signal your intention (left or right) approaching and entering the roundabout.
- Signal your intention to leave the roundabout (right) as a courtesy to other road users.
- Unless you have a damn good reason (for example, an emergency vehicle wants to get through) then never stop whilst on the roundabout to let someone else on. Do not try to be polite and disregard traffic laws because on a roundabout it is doubly dangerous. Traffic on the roundabout is always flowing so the person behind you won't be expecting a sudden stop.