Rock Talk

Safe rotary and round about navigation

Last updated on November 15, 2019 at 02:16 pm

If you’ve spent time driving around the Northeast, chances are you’ve come upon a roundabout or a rotary.

Considered a safer alternative to the traditional intersection, roundabouts and rotaries can be tricky to navigate if you aren’t used to them, so here are some tips on how to pass through safely:

Know what you’re driving into. Roundabouts and rotaries are different infrastructural systems and the terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Rotaries (also known as traffic circles) are large in diameter and allow for high speed vehicle entries. Once in the traffic circle, cars can weave in between one another due to the lack of clear lane markings.

Roundabouts are another alternative to a traditional intersection and are much smaller in size. Though traffic slows in a roundabout, the roundabout can accommodate higher volumes of traffic safer than a rotary can. When entering roundabouts, cars are forced to slow down and yield to cars already inside the circle. Roundabouts also have designated lanes, which make them easier to navigate than the “free for all” approach of the rotary.

Enter slowly. Enter the roundabout or rotary slowly while being mindful that cars already inside have the right of way. Traffic travels counterclockwise.

Stay in your lane. Some roundabouts and rotaries have a single lane, but others will have more than one. If you encounter a multi-lane roundabout or rotary, once inside, pick a lane and stick to it – this will help keep traffic flowing smoothly.

Keep on moving. Once you’re safely inside the circle, don’t stop moving. If you happen to miss your exit, simply continue around and try again.

Avoid large vehicles. Roundabouts sometimes will have an apron – an angled section of pavement – wrapped around the circumference of the inner island to help larger vehicles safely make the turn. Since larger vehicles might require more space to complete their turn, avoid driving next to large vehicles while you’re in a roundabout.

Exit carefully. As you approach your exit, use your right-turn signal to let others around you know that you are leaving exiting. Oftentimes roundabouts have crosswalks for pedestrians, so keep an eye out for anyone waiting to cross.

Ready or not, they’re coming! A study from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology found an 80% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes after single-lane roundabouts replaced classic intersections. We’re likely to see more and more roundabouts sprouting up on our roads, so it’s important to cover the basics of navigating this modern wonder.

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