The United States is gradually embracing roundabouts, which are safer and more efficient than traditional intersections. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there might have been 51,000 fewer crashes in 2018 if the U.S. implemented more roundabouts.
However, there is a learning curve to using roundabouts. See below to learn some safety tips when navigating these traffic features.
Entering and exiting a roundabout
Yield to any traffic already in the circle before you enter a roundabout, and merge when it is safe. When leaving, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. You must navigate roundabouts at a slow, steady pace, so avoid stopping once you enter. If you miss your exit, circle around again. If you notice an emergency vehicle approaching, proceed to your exit and pull over to let it pass.
Single versus multi-lane roundabouts
In a single-lane roundabout, stay in your lane. Multi-lane roundabouts usually have signs that indicate where drivers should be. Those turning left should use the left lane. Drivers turning right should use the right lane, and drivers going straight can use either route. However, pay attention to traffic signals on the road and do not assume anything.
Many modern roundabouts use truck aprons to provide larger vehicles like buses and semi-trucks with extra turning space. These are concrete sections around the center island. Regular cars are typically not required to use them, so keep them clear for larger vehicles that do.
Roundabouts are relatively new to Americans. They appear intimidating initially, but you might prefer them to traditional traffic lights. Follow the advice described above, and watch out for drivers who do not yield or obey traffic laws.