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How to drive in a roundabout

How to Drive Safely Through a Roundabout

May 13, 2019

Michigan drivers have undoubtedly noticed the increase in roundabouts at busy intersections. Roundabouts have several benefits that include reducing traffic delays and decreasing the number of serious accidents. However, many drivers are confused about how to drive in a roundabout. Here is an overview of the roundabout rules for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Basic Roundabout Facts

  • A roundabout is a (usually) circular intersection where traffic travels counterclockwise around a center island.
  • Some roundabouts have oval, tear-drop, peanut or dog bone shapes to accommodate the traffic flow and geographic features of their locations.
  • Roundabouts can be multi-lane or smaller, with as few as three legs or as many as six.
  • Roundabouts reduce the number of crashes resulting in serious injuries or death by up to 82% compared to traditional intersections.
  • Roundabouts differ from “traffic circles” in that they are typically smaller and drivers are required to yield to existing traffic before entering.

How to Drive in a Roundabout

Drivers

  • Slow down as you approach the roundabout. Speed limits will usually be posted before each roundabout entrance.
  • Look to your left and yield to motorists who are already driving in the roundabout.
  • Use the directional signs and lane markers to choose your lane before entering the roundabout.
  • Yield to pedestrians or bicyclists in the crosswalk.
  • Once you have entered the roundabout, do not stop or change lanes.
  • Use your turn signal when you exit the roundabout.
  • Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians as you exit.
  • Give large trucks room to turn. Do not drive too close to a truck or attempt to pass one that is already in the roundabout.
  • Motorists traveling in a roundabout have the right of way. Drivers wishing to enter must yield until traffic is clear. Do not stop to let other drivers enter the roundabout unless it is the only way to avoid a collision.

Pedestrians

  • Pedestrians should be extremely careful when crossing an intersection with a roundabout. Many drivers “barrel” around the turns without watching out for pedestrians.
  • If there is a crosswalk with a signal, press the button to activate the signal and wait for a “walk” sign.
  • If there is no signal, check to make sure traffic is clear and cross using available sidewalks and crosswalks.

Bicyclists

  • Bicyclists can choose to use a roundabout as a pedestrian or a motorist.
  • To cross as a pedestrian, dismount and walk your bicycle across using available sidewalks and crosswalks.
  • To ride your bicycle through the roundabout, position yourself in the center of the lane. This makes you more visible to motorists and also prevents them from attempting to pass you.
  • Once you have entered the roundabout, follow the same rules that apply to cars and other motor vehicles.

Emergency Vehicles

  • If an ambulance or police car (with lights and sirens) approaches, use the nearest exit and pull over to the right until the emergency vehicle clears the roundabout.
  • If you have not yet entered the roundabout, pull over to the right of the road and let the emergency vehicle pass.
  • Do not stop once you are inside the roundabout.

“Roundabouts can be confusing, but they are here to stay,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “Familiarize yourself with the rules and watch for drivers and pedestrians who may not know how to drive in a roundabout.”

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