During every test, the driver is taken through a roundabout. Unless you live in a town where there are none. Of course, there are some towns that are so notorious for their roundabouts so much so that outsiders snigger about the lack of traffic lights.
So, unless you live in Milton Keynes or Cumbernauld, negotiating roundabouts may not come as second nature and practicing them will become a focal point of your lessons, before you go for your test.
The term roundabout is used almost exclusively in the UK. Even other commonwealth countries commonly use the term traffic circle. If you’re visiting abroad and need to provide instructions as the person receiving them may look for an item of playground furniture once they have left.
Roundabouts will therefore be new to drivers from abroad, so if the driver ahead of you appears a little confused be patient, they are discovering another concept introduced to the driving world that the British have managed to perfect. Well, just about.
There are rules that are very specific to roundabout traffic and unless you have mastered them, it is unlikely that you will pass your test. Bear in mind also that there are two kinds of roundabout.
There are the typical main road roundabouts that are preceded by a triangular road sign and the mini roundabouts found in residential areas.
Unless you live in an area where there is an abundance of roundabouts you may get off lightly and only have to tackle the roundabout once in the test. You must however know how to pass through a roundabout turning left or right, or travelling straight ahead.
Using a roundabout
Roundabouts can be open or closed. A closed roundabout is one where you cannot see other traffic clearly because of hedges, fences or other visual obstructions. An open roundabout is one where you can see approaching traffic clearly. When approaching a roundabout, you will need to adjust your speed according to whether the roundabout is open or closed.
As you approach the roundabout slow down and put the vehicle into second gear. Give way to any vehicles approaching from the right. If you see another vehicle approaching from the right you will need to come to a stop and allow them to pass by, pulling away from a stationary position as you would normally.
In the event that the roundabout is clear, you can continue in second gear and enter the roundabout. If you are turning left, be sure to be in the left lane before entering the roundabout and once you have exited be sure to cancel your signal by ensuring that the indicator is back in its correct position.
Having to adjust your focus from the source of oncoming traffic, your right, to where you are going, straight ahead is a challenge for new drivers. It is important however that this technique is perfected before you even think about booking your practical test. Remember too that it is vital that you signal when leaving the roundabout even when you are moving in what appears to be a straight line.
When you are going to turn right at a roundabout, ensure that you are signalling the turn before you reach the roundabout. Ensure that you are in the right hand land and enter the roundabout when it is appropriate to do so. Stay in the right hand land lane until you have passed the second exit and while checking your mirrors, use your left indicator and move over to the left lane to indicate that you are going to exit the roundabout. Don’t forget to check your blind spot before changing lanes and to switch off the indicator once you have entered the exit.
A lot of drivers think they failed their test at the roundabout because they took the wrong exit, but it is usually for failure to move the indicator back to its position. Leaving your indicator on for too long could confuse other drivers and cause an accident.
Occasionally there will be a pedestrian crossing shortly after the exit from a roundabout. This can cause traffic to queue and create a stoppage on the roundabout itself. Roundabouts are known for the dangers they present. It is often difficult to see what is ahead of you when you’re driving in a circular direction.
You should always drive carefully, however at roundabouts use extra caution as it is the driver that has a legal duty of care.