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Here's how to use roundabouts properly. It is as simple as clockwork when you know the 'golden rule'.


ROUNDABOUTS. Now there is the one issue that generates heated discussion on road safety. In fact, we at the RSA receive more emails, letters and phone calls about roundabouts than any other topic.

The main gist of the correspondence is 'People don't know how to use roundabouts, do something to teach them how to use them properly.'

Roundabouts can sometimes be intimidating, especially those with multiple entry and exit lanes. But by following some basic tips it can be a much safer and less stressful experience.

After getting the views of some of my colleagues in Driver Testing and Training the most important piece of advice they have for people, is to open your eyes and read the road carefully long before you actually get onto the roundabout. If you sleep walk your way onto a roundabout, you could find yourself in difficulty.

And this is why, government health warning coming, conditions at roundabouts may vary around the country. It's probably the single biggest reason why people get into difficulty on a roundabout. So, it's really important, especially if you are driving on unfamiliar roads, to carefully read the road signs and road markings, on the approach to a roundabout. Look for directional arrows, road markings or signs that tell you what lane you should use for the exit you'll need to take and using the routine Mirror, Signal, Mirror, move into the correct lane in good time.

Many drivers get themselves into difficulty because they approach a roundabout too fast. In fact it's one of the biggest causes of crashes. Reduce your speed on approach, especially if the road conditions are wet or icy.

You must yield to any traffic coming from the right. But if you are watching the traffic on a roundabout early enough on your approach, you should try and time your arrival so that you can keep moving if the way is clear.

By law, a driver must enter a roundabout by turning to the left. While this may seem self-evident to most drivers, 64 people have received penalty points for failing to turn onto a roundabout correctly.

With early planning and good observation, driving around a roundabout should go like 'clockwork'. As a general rule we suggest that drivers use the 12 o'clock 'golden rule' to help plan a safe path onto and around a roundabout, unless road signs, markings or traffic conditions indicate otherwise.

This 'golden rule' should help you to drive safely at any roundabout regardless of the number of exits.

Think of the roundabout as a clock. If taking any exit from the 6 o'clock to the 12 o'clock position, you should generally approach in the left-hand lane.

If taking any exit between the 12 o'clock to the 6 o'clock positions, motorists should generally approach in the right-hand lane. If there are road markings showing you what lane you should be in, follow those directions.

Traffic conditions might sometimes mean you have to take a different approach which may involve a lane change but, in the main, the 'golden rule' will help you to drive safely on any roundabout.

If a roundabout is controlled by traffic lights, they must be obeyed. Also be aware of other road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders, large or long vehicles and so on, who may have to change their position on the approach, as well as on the roundabout.It is also important to watch out for pedestrians who may be attempting to cross.

Tragically, three times as many cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians were killed at roundabouts between 2007 and 20011 compared to car users.

If you are intimidated by roundabouts, or maybe is hesitant about using a particular one in your locality, why not consider an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) in your local area to give you a refresher lesson? An ADI can give one on one coaching to help build up experience and confidence so you're using a roundabout like clockwork.

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