4 tips for safely driving a roundabout

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

A roundabout is a type of circular intersection that eliminates the need for traditional traffic signals and left-hand turns at busy intersections. In a roundabout, cars and other vehicles travel counterclockwise around a center island, exiting at various points toward their destinations.

They’re increasingly popular features on modern roads, and New York was actually the very first state to ever have one. As of 2024, the state currently has 251 – and more are being built all the time. Unfortunately, not everybody is comfortable with driving on a roundabout, and that discomfort can translate into hesitation at the wrong moment or other mistakes that lead to wrecks.

How can you traverse a roundabout safely? Keep the following tips in mind.

Approach with caution

Slow down as you approach the roundabout. Pay attention to signs indicating the speed limit and prepare to yield to the traffic that’s already in the circle. Vehicles already inside the roundabout have the right-of-way. Look left and wait for a safe gap before entering.

Stay in your lane

Once inside the roundabout, maintain your lane. Don’t try to overtake and pass other vehicles. In most cases, roundabouts are wider than necessary for the average vehicle, but that is a feature designed to make room for trucks, not an unmarked passing lane.

Look for pedestrians and cyclists

Roundabouts often have crosswalks for pedestrians and dedicated lanes for cyclists. Always yield to pedestrians and cyclists when entering and exiting the roundabout.

Use your signals and stay calm

Once you spot your exit, put your turn signal on to indicate to the drivers behind you that you’re about to slow a little and exit, just as you would while making any other turn. If you happen to roll past your exit before you realize what’s happening, stay calm and circle around again. (You won’t be the only person who does this.)

That’s it! There’s not much else to navigating a roundabout safely. If you do end up in a wreck because someone rushed you, tried to pass where they shouldn’t or failed to yield, seek immediate medical attention and find out more about your legal options.