Why do we have roundabouts?
When there is a meeting of two or more large junctions, the road can become blocked very easily and it can become difficult for traffic to flow freely in either direction. To reduce congestion on busy roads, we have roundabouts in place which allow vehicles to continue their journey with minimal obstruction from motorists travelling in different directions.
The sign below indicates the presence of a roundabout and from that point onwards, certain rules apply. Red triangular signs are considered warning signs and when you see a broken circle within a triangle as the sign below shows, you should start preparing for a potential roundabout. Preparation is key on this type of road. You want to read the directional sign as early as possible, figure out your exit and locate the lane you need to capture while looking out for other relevant information include lane markings on the road and whether or not it is controlled by a traffic light.
Choice of lane
One area many learner drivers find difficult in the initial stages of tackling this type of road is capturing the correct lane. On large roundabouts where are there are multiple exits and lanes, it can be quite confusing knowing which lane to be in for your desired exit. However, there is a simple way of dealing with it. If you think of the roundabout as a clock face, for exits before 12 O’clock you need to be in the left lane, for exits after 12 O’clock you need to be in the right lane when approaching. While on a roundabout it may become necessary to change lanes before you reach your exit and in such situations, it is important to use the MSM driving routine, to safely capture your desired lane.
Speed and gear
It is important to match your speed with the road situation you are facing. On closed roundabouts where your visibility is reduced, you should select a low gear for example gear one and peep and creep till your view of the road improves. When tackling large open roundabouts it is important to choose the correct speed for the road, so if it is clear, try to pick up speed while staying within the speed limit as driving too slow on this road can lead to accidents and encourage other drivers to take unnecessary risks.
Signalling on a roundabout
The timing of your signal is vitally important on this particular road and there are several rules which are in place to help you signal correctly when driving on a roundabout. If you are taking the first exit, you should signal left on your approach and take the exit as you would a left turn. If you are travelling straight on, there is no need to signal on approach, however, you should be in the left lane and signal after the exit before the one you wish to take. When taking an exit to the right, you need to signal right on approach and remain in the right-hand lane. You should move lanes to left before your intended exit and signal left after the exit before the one you will be leaving from. You should always use the MSM routine when signalling, changing lanes and exiting the motorway. Once you have captured your exit lane and left the roundabout, ensure you cancel your signal so as not to confuse other road users around you.
Dealing with other road users on the roundabout
In some situations, you may find pedestrians crossing the approach or exit of a roundabout. You need to be aware of this and proceed with caution when you see this occurring. You should also look out for cyclists, motorcycles and horse riders who might be using the road as well. These road users sometimes take a slightly different course and signal in the incorrect manner. Drive more cautiously when on roundabouts with large vehicles as they may take up more than one lane and swing out before taking their exit.
You need a good understanding of this type of road in order to pass your driving test. Incorrect positioning on a roundabout is a common reason for a failed driving test and we’ve put together some roundabout tips to help you get to grips with this subject.
Prepare as early as you can
The earlier you prepare i.e locating your exit, choosing the correct lane and looking into the road to assess traffic to your right, the better.
Maintain good lane discipline
Maintain good lane discipline when you’re on the roundabout and only change lanes when necessary. Look out for signs and road markings that indicate which lane you should be in and stay on the roundabout if another vehicle is blocking your exit.
Use the MSM routine
It is important to always use the MSM driving routine as you approach and exit the roundabout. The routine will help you remain aware of other road users around your vehicle.
Learn the rules of the roundabout
There is a section in the Highway code dedicated to driving on the roundabout and it is advisable for you to read this section for all of the rules governing this particular type of road.