Don’t turn roundabouts into Russian roulette

Too many drivers are making negotiating roundabouts a guessing game by not using their indicators, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Driving on to busy roundabouts is a bit like Russian roulette – any moment you expect a big bang.

Roundabouts are difficult enough without the added complication of playing the ‘guess where the car is going’ game.

With many drivers failing to use indicators, or even the right lane, it can be virtually impossible to know where they are going… assuming they even know themselves!

I felt very sorry the other day for a learner driver trying to get on to a roundabout where five major roads converge. They weren’t confident enough to nip into a gap in the traffic, and understandably so. But with so few cars indicating their intentions I was finding it difficult to judge when it was safe to go.

I am always careful on roadabouts, even more so since being forced to continue round one on my way home when a driver who approached it in the left-hand lane decided to sail round the outside of the roundabout and leave it at the third of the four exits… I just missed him and ended up leaving at the fourth exit and heading back to where I’d come from!

So I am delighted road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists is offering tips to avoid problems at roundabouts.

Information: Look well ahead, check your mirrors so you know what traffic is around you. Give any signals in plenty of time. Try and identify a gap in the traffic before you reach the roundabout, but keep an eye on the car in front – it may not go for the gap you would.

Position: Approach the roundabout according to which exit you’re taking. Keep to the left lane to turn left or go straight and the right lane when taking an exit on the right. Watch for any road markings guiding you and try to give other vehicles plenty of space.

Speed: Slow smoothly to a speed appropriate for the roundabout, taking into account the position of other road-users

Gears: Once you’re at the right speed, and before turning, select the correct gear. Do a final mirror check, especially the mirror on the side you are turning towards.

Accelerate: At a roundabout choose a gap in the traffic and accelerate smoothly into it – the same applies to any other junction

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger  said: “At roundabouts, it is useful to try and consider the whole thing as one manoeuvre – that way you have a plan about which lane to be in, when to move into that lane and what signals you expect to use. But you need to prepare to be flexible – other road users don’t always behave as we’d expect them to.”

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