I wasn’t aware before my lesson that today’s lesson would be the dreaded roundabout lesson. Although I’ve dreaded learning about roundabouts, I think it was about time as I have had 13 lessons now, and probably gone around fairly large roundabouts in 7 of these without any idea of what to do. Roundabouts are designed to help traffic flow although this can be difficult to believe when you see the build-up of traffic at some roundabouts.
General rules for roundabouts
The theory behind roundabouts is easy, the hard part comes when you actually have to try and get around one. The general lane rule for a 4 exit roundabout is; if you are going left or straight on then you go in the left lane and if you are going right you go in the right lane. I’m going to be honest I forgot which mirrors you are ‘supposed’ to look in when going around the roundabout but I personally like to check all mirrors anyway.
Approaching a roundabout
When you come up to a roundabout you need to make observations quite early, so that you know where other vehicles are in relation to you. You also need to do the usual mirrors, signal and position the car. If you are turning left, you indicate left and if you are going right you indicate right before you enter the roundabout. If you are going straight on, you indicate left after you have passed the exit before your exit. You also need to change your indicator from right to left when you are going right. Also something else to mention is that you go left round a roundabout. Someone I know made the mistake of going right during one of his lessons!
It’s also important to change gear and reduce speed as you approach a roundabout so that you can take in the surroundings and make a decision on whether to stop, if you need to move lane etc. It’s best to approach a roundabout in second gear however if you need to slow right down or stop then you obviously need to drop it down to first gear.
At roundabouts that are more complex and have more than the ‘easy’ 4 exits things get a bit more complicated. I asked Matt about these roundabouts straight away because most of the ones that are in my area have 5 or 6 exits and are always really busy and look complicated. I wanted to be able to get my head around any differences before I reached one of these roundabouts so thought asking about them straight away was the best thing to do.
The only real difference is deciding which exit is classed as straight on left and right and being able to figure out which exit others are taking. Straight on can only be one exit and is pretty much exactly straight on. Anything before straight on is left and anything after is right. The same rules still apply in relation to lanes however it is more important to know when to move over into the left hand lane when you are turning right. This is because there is obviously more traffic and you don’t want t end up cutting across someone who is carrying on around the roundabout. I know that some roundabouts have more than 2 lanes on them and approaching them however Matt said he would show me how to go about these roundabouts some time in the future.
Light controlled roundabouts
I also went around a couple of sets of light controlled roundabouts. We hadn’t discussed these however as I have been round them before I knew that we wouldn’t be avoiding them during this lesson. I personally think that light controlled ones are so much easier than the normal roundabouts as when your light is green you are 100% sure that you can go. Lights also make it easier when it is busy as the traffic will be flowing equally from all exits of the roundabout.
The only thing about roundabouts with traffic lights is changing gears becomes even more difficult than it normally is on a roundabout because there is a large chance that you will constantly be stopping and starting as you go round. Even though this is the case, every other vehicle also has to change gear when they stop and start again so it isn’t as though you will be the only vehicle going slower while you increase your gear.
Practice makes perfect!
At the end of my lesson Matt asked me how I found roundabouts now and my honest answer was ‘I still hate them’. I think roundabouts are something that you definitely need to practice before you can fully understand them. It is partially about anticipating the moves of others as well as not hesitating yourself. Apparently stopping at a roundabout during your test, even if it’s just because you want to be completely certain that you can go, is a sign of hesitation.