Traffic Circle Confusion

Traffic Circle Confusion

My dad taught me an important road safety lesson – the lesson not to “stand on your own rights” when it comes to driving behaviour. Perhaps better explained this is the important awareness that even though you have the right of way, not merely to accept that others will abide by the Rules of the Road and respect your rights and safety!

Many accidents are caused when vehicles are “side – swiped” at a traffic circle or roundabout when drivers are not following the Rules of the Road at these intersections. South African drivers are not good when driving at traffic circles – much frustration and road rage have been vented via the Arrive Alive website about incidents of bad driving at traffic circles – and we need to create awareness that could reduce the car insurance claims from these accidents!

There has been a lengthy discussion on Driving at traffic circles added to the Road Safety Blog and titled “Let us all avoid the Traffic Circles of Confusion!!” We will not repeat this on the Car Insurance Blog and rather urge our visitors to read this post on the Road Safety Blog.

We would however like to add a few basic suggestions and advice to all road users driving at Traffic Circles and making lance changes:

  • Vehicles approaching a roundabout must yield to all vehicles already in the roundabout that are approaching from the right and are close enough to represent a potential hazard.
  • So, a vehicle already in the roundabout, in the inside lane, may check behind and to the left to see if it is safe to change lanes to the left. If safe, he may do so, irrespective of any vehicles approaching the roundabout from his left. However, keep an eye on vehicles approaching the roundabout in case they might take a chance and not comply with the yield rule (just as a pedestrian legally crossing at a pedestrian crossing should still check that it is safe and that an approaching motorist has in fact seen him and is stopping or has stopped).
  • If checking to the left/behind shows that it is safe to change lanes to the left, the driver must then indicate left, then check again (to make sure it is still safe) before moving into the left lane to leave the roundabout at the required exit. This would require quick glances and alert driving at a speed that is safe for the circumstances.
  • Sensible drivers in the outside lane who see a driver in the inside lane obviously wanting to change lane to the left (e.g. he is looking to the left) would not speed up, and would normally ease back to allow the driver to move into the outside lane. But … the onus remains on the driver changing lanes to make sure it is safe to do so.
  • If it is not safe to change lane, then don’t indicate yet. Continue round the island and miss the desired exit and try again the next time round.
  • No driver has the right to create a hazard for another driver, and lane changing should only be done if it is safe to do so (after checking mirrors and blind spots and signalling the intention to change lanes).

In some other countries there are additional or different specific rules for driving within and exiting multi-lane roundabouts. In SA the rules given above apply.

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