Once you have shown a good grasp of junction work and car control, going into a little light traffic and driving through roundabouts is the next step. You should choose an area that is not too busy to begin with.
Driving through roundabouts to most experienced drivers is an easy enough skill; you simply watch for a suitable gap in the traffic flow and adjust the approach speed to coincide with it. This isn’t quite so simple though to the majority of new drivers. To the novice, a junction like this may appear to take on the complexities of a maze from which there is no escape, and often no entrance! A lot of observation and decision making has to be carried out before arriving at the give way point. You must begin observation from well back and continually watch the flow of traffic on your approach.
If you have doubts about when to enter a roundabout; you may enter the junction when you can do so without making traffic coming from your right slow down or change direction.
Turning Left at a Roundabout
When turning left at a roundabout, the approach is generally the same as the method for turning left you have practised at normal junctions. The ‘MS-PSG-L’ routine still needs to be put into practise; the only real difference is that on roundabouts the corner you are turning may be gentler than it would be at a T-Junction or crossroads, and the view is usually much better. For this reason, if you are confident and capable, it may be possible to maintain a slightly higher speed. At large roundabouts you may perhaps remain in third gear to go through some turns.
Although you must keep checking to the right for an opportunity to enter the roundabout, all-round observations must not be forgotten. You also need to make sure that you have a clear path through the roundabout. Be aware of what may lie at the exit, in case there is something which may prevent you from accelerating away such as queuing traffic or pedestrians crossing.
Going Ahead at a Roundabout
Planning to take the ‘road ahead’ (Fig. 11) requires a little more thought. As well as searching for a gap in the roundabout itself you also have to select the appropriate lane on approach. You should normally use the left hand lane unless road markings show otherwise. You should maintain whichever lane you use on the approach until the exit.
Although you do not need to signal before entering the roundabout, you should still check your mirrors before slowing down on the approach. You should take regular observation to your right and towards the exit you intend to take. Once you have safely entered the junction, you should check your mirrors again as you near your exit, and then signal left to let people know you are going to take the exit.
As there is a little more to think about than when turning left, I would recommend a slower speed and the use of second gear on approach. On a larger roundabout however, you could maintain more speed and third gear as you gain experience.
Turning Right at a Roundabout
Turning right (Fig. 12), as with normal road junctions, will prove more of a task for you. Positioning on the approach will be the first likely complication.
Taking up a left of centre position is something that you have already practised, but here you may actually have to make a change of lanes. If there is more than one lane on the approach, then you should generally use the right hand lane, and make sure that you move into this in good time.
You should approach at a fairly low speed to give yourself time, taking regular observation to your right and into the lane you are aiming for.
Once you are within the right-hand lane of the roundabout, keep your speed steady until the exit. As you get near the road before the one you want to take, check your mirrors, particularly the left door mirror, then indicate left for your exit.
On larger roundabouts there is a risk that another driver may come up on your left-hand side. If this happens you should slow down until the vehicle passes before you move across to leave the roundabout. Or if necessary, continue going around the island and take the exit you need the next time around.
Roundabouts with Multiple Exits
Lots of roundabouts have only three exits; but what about driving through roundabouts with a more complex layout like the one in Fig. 10?
To leave by the first exit is simple enough and classed as a left turn, but what about the second exit? It is also leading off to the left but you cannot signal left on the approach and must delay the exit signal until passing the first road. The same would apply, of course, for the ‘road ahead’ which in this case is the third exit. You should treat roads four and five as right turns.
To summarise the basic rules, the first exit from a roundabout can generally be classed as a left turn; although on occasions the first road may be literally straight on. Any exit between the first and the 12 o’clock point of the island should be treated as a ‘road ahead’. Therefore you should keep to the left and signal left when passing the exit before yours. Treat any exits past this point as right turns.
You should begin driving through roundabouts where possible with left turns, then taking the road ahead, and finally right turns. This though, may be at the mercy of the layout and the location of the junctions within your area. For example, you should avoid a left turn at a roundabout if this exit leads to a busy main road. To remain in quiet surroundings it may mean having to choose the road ahead instead. You must use your local knowledge to improvise and get around this the best you can.
Remember not to stare only to the right on the approach when driving through roundabouts; it is equally as important to be aware of what is in front of you before you attempt to enter.
Too many drivers signal so late that it is of little value to others. Make sure that you give your exit signal as soon as you are passing the one before yours.
At mini roundabouts, signal on approach where needed, but don’t worry too much about giving exit signals; particularly on right turns. The central islands may be very small and this requires a lot of steering. If you attempt to change the signal at this time you may lose control. You may signal however, if you can do so without any loss of control.
When going ahead at mini roundabouts, there may be no need to steer at all. Unless you need to avoid the central island or painted circle then you should keep a steady course.