‘Round and ‘Round We Go

Roundabouts, ahhh, we all love to hate them. A roundabout/traffic circle can be a useful tool for our highway transportation system. Roundabouts have been around for a very long time, the earliest dating back to 1907 in Great Britain. In Whitehorse, we had a roundabout on the top of Two Mile Hill back in the 70s, but it was removed once a new intersection was designed. We have seen a comeback of roundabouts since the late 1990s.

Navigating the Roundabout Can Be Tricky At First But Offers a Better Alternative to a Traditional Intersection

The main purpose of a roundabout is to keep a steady flow of traffic moving in a safe and orderly fashion. Roundabouts cost less to build rather than a traditional intersection with lights, they take less space to build and are more environmentally friendly. Other benefits to using a roundabout include that they decrease travel time and lower the risk of collision.

With this said, there is still a time and place for them. I could easily get on a rant about the misplacement of a lot of our roundabouts in Whitehorse, but that is not the point of this article. The point of this article is to be educational and to learn how to properly navigate a roundabout in our fair city.

The concept is simple—we yield to traffic inside the circle and we signal when we leave. While teaching, I have seen signals misused all the time. In an earlier Facebook post on the Yukon Driving Academy page, I talked about proper communication. Communication in a roundabout is crucial. We need to use our signals in an appropriate manner to tell other drivers what we are doing and when we are exiting, so other drivers know when they can enter the circle.

To break it down, when the driver is approaching the roundabout, they need to:

  1. Slow down
  2. Scan to the left for oncoming traffic
  3. Yield to any pedestrians or traffic 

When entering the roundabout, they need to:

  1. Make sure it is safe to enter  

When in the roundabout the driver must:

  1. Not stop
  2. Always travel clockwise
  3. Not pass 

When the driver is exiting, they must:

  1. Signal right before their exit
  2. Yield to any pedestrians at the crosswalk 

If you miss your exit, simply turn off your signal and continue around until you reach your exit. If there is ever an emergency vehicle that approaches, pull over before the circle if you have not entered (or if you are already in the roundabout), take your exit and pull over to the side of the road, leaving enough space for the emergency vehicle.

Space management is another key to navigating the roundabout. The following graphic is a great illustration of how we manage our space when entering the roundabout.

When entering a roundabout, it is important that we try to be car A, B and C. We need to avoid being car D, as I am sure we all have been car E before. I know I have.

So, if we follow the yield in and signal out rules of the roundabout, we will be able to properly navigate them, keeping our driving time safe and efficient and hopefully creating fewer car Ds.

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