After learning about roundabouts in my last lesson, this lesson was dedicated to mini roundabouts as well as just driving around (which I seem to have been doing a lot of recently). Matt told me that mini roundabouts are more difficult than big roundabouts which from my experience so far I completely disagree with.
It is normal for a mini roundabout to only have 3 exits however there are some with 4. A standard 3 exit one often consists of a straight on, which is usually a continuation of a main road, and an exit either to the left or right onto a quieter road. If you are coming from the smaller road it can be quite difficult to get out at the roundabout as the traffic along the main road and through the roundabout is likely to be flowing. In this situation at a mini roundabout there are 2 things to look for that can help you get out.
What to look for…
The first thing to look for (and the most obvious) is to watch the traffic coming from your right to see if any of the vehicles are turning into the exit you are entering the roundabout from. This doesn’t give you much time to go, however if you can see in advance that the car is turning you can prepare to pull out. Another thing to look for in this direction is someone signalling that they are letting you go. I know you aren’t supposed to flash your headlights according to the Highway Code but if someone flashes you out of the roundabout as they are approaching and slowing down then you have the opportunity to go.
The other thing is to watch the traffic coming to your left. If you see a car that is turning from that direction, you know that nothing will be coming the other way when that turns in which gives you the perfect opportunity to go. You will have a longer period of time to move away at the roundabout in this scenario. This is something that is easy to forget about when you are sat waiting to get out however it is worth watching out for.
Approaching a mini-roundabout
When you are approaching a mini roundabout you need to reduce your speed a lot more than you would at a normal roundabout. These roundabouts aren’t likely to be as open as bigger roundabouts so reducing your speed allows you to increase your visibility.
Approaching the roundabout too fast could result in you making quick, possibly uninformed decisions that could put you and other at risk. Slowing down allows you to take in what is currently happening on the roundabout and gives you time to decide whether to go or stop.
Like larger roundabout you also need to check your mirrors and signal when approaching a mini roundabout. It is important to check your left mirror and rear view mirror as you want to make sure there aren’t any cyclists and to check the braking time needed for the vehicles behind so that you can adapt your own. You position of the car isn’t important at a mini roundabout as there aren’t lanes (well very rarely anyway) so signalling is enough to show others which way you are going.
Roundabouts and Gears
During this lesson I also had a lot of problems with changing gears on larger roundabouts. I just cannot do it. I could tell that Matt was becoming a little bit annoyed however he hadn’t actually told me if there was a correct time to change gear on a roundabout. The roads were so busy and I was worried about drifting lanes on the roundabout. It was only when we had stopped at the end of my lesson that Matt said there is a time when you aren’t steering on a roundabout and that this is when you should change gear but I still have no idea when this time is.
After speaking to friends, they said that this is something they all struggled with however their instructors all told them when to change on the roundabout to begin with. This isn’t something that Matt has done which is a bit annoying as telling me while I am going round would be more useful than him telling me I should have done it afterwards. I know every instructor has different methods but I don’t feel like I will ever know unless I am shown what to do even just once.