for Driving in a Roundabout
Roundabouts traditionally were thought of as only a European traffic tool, but in recent years, they've made a renaissance in North America and throughout other parts of the world. Roundabouts are typically used to control the flow of traffic, making otherwise difficult intersections more manageable and safe for drivers… if you know how to drive in one.
Here are some important things to know about navigating a roundabout in your independent car rental:
Is it a Single or Multi-lane Roundabout?
As you enter any roundabout in your car rental vehicle, it's important to know what you're getting in to. Navigating a single lane roundabout is simple. When entering a multi-lane roundabout however, you'll have to do some extra manoeuvring and be more cautious and aware of other drivers.
• Single-Lane Roundabouts: In a single lane roundabout, or any roundabout for that matter, you'll need to yield to oncoming traffic as you enter. Be cautious: just because you think a vehicle will be leaving at an exit, doesn't mean it will! As you enter, do so slowly. Most roundabout entrances are controlled by a yield sign, meaning you simply need to wait for a gap in traffic to proceed, or you can enter freely if no traffic is present. Once in a single-lane roundabout in your car rental vehicle, simply obey the posted speed limit, keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians (some roundabouts contain cross walks), and look for your exit. As you approach your exit, signal, and slowly make the turn onto the outgoing road.
• Multi-Lane Roundabouts: A multi-lane roundabout can be a tricky task for a first time car rental customer. If you are making a right turn, or staying on the "right side" of the roundabout, you will stay in the right lane. If you plan to travel more than 180 degrees, or to the other half of the roundabout, you should get into the left lane until you approach your exit of choice. This allows drivers to enter and exit the roundabout safely and efficiently. In a roundabout with several lanes, the same holds true. Move toward the middle if you plan to travel farther around the circle, move toward the outside when you near your exit. As a rule of thumb, to go straight or right, stay in the right; to go straight or left, go to the left. It is very important to remember however that in a multi-lane roundabout, you must yield to all lanes of traffic when entering with your car rental vehicle.
Be Aware of Oversize Vehicles
The bigger the vehicle, the more difficult it will be to navigate a roundabout. If you are in a roundabout with a bus, RV, or transport truck, be aware that these vehicles typically make wider turns and have larger blind spots. Although many roundabouts are designed for large trucks, you still need to remain cautious when these vehicles are present. In particular, avoid driving beside these vehicles if at all possible while your car rental is in the roundabout.
Are Roundabouts Safe?
Compared to traditional intersections, roundabouts are considered safer, with statistics showing that less dangerous crashes occur in intersections. As there is no direct route to freely drive through a roundabout without slowing and turning, the risk for head on collisions and t-bone accidents is reduced. As well, considering drivers can only enter a roundabout using a right turn, compared to the riskier left turn, during which you cross traffic, the risks are further reduced. In short, roundabouts are designed for and improve your safety.
Just Keep Going
One of the most common mistakes car rental customers make in a roundabout is to stop. Many drivers stop in roundabouts to let off passengers, or more frequently because they have missed their turn. Never stop your car rental vehicle in a roundabout! Luckily, if you miss your turn, you're only one revolution away from that same exit. Stay in your lane and keep driving. Although many roundabouts have pedestrian crossings, it's crucial not to stop your vehicle inside the roundabout. Typically, there will be room for cars to park and stop a short distance outside the roundabout.
There you have it. Roundabouts, if you are aware of the rules, are not difficult to navigate, and in fact are there for your safety and convenience.