Car AdviceVoices

Driving on a roundabout and why it means civilisation is doomed

The roundabout can be an instrument for good, but too often, argues Isaac Bober, moronic drivers and cyclists ruin it for the rest of us.

TOO MANY PEOPLE moan about teens with their heads glued to their phones as the downfall of civilisation. Or that the middle-aged, like me, have discovered social media and so will never speak to one another again… Or that the supposedly gluten-intolerant (and I don’t mean those are actually coeliac) might eat a piece of full-fat bread and explode in a giant fart.

Pick a topic and you can pretty much determine an angle for why it’ll lead to the end of civilisation.

But I reckon the only true indicator that mankind on this planet is absolutely stuffed is the way in which drivers handle roundabouts.

Now, the roundabout is a genius invention that helps to keep traffic flowing smoothly… or so goes the theory.

In practice, the roundabout usually ends up becoming a free-for-all where no-one looks to the right, gives way to traffic already on the roundabout or bothers to indicate when exiting or, if they do, they usually don’t actually exit where they’re indicating. Most drivers won’t look ahead to see if traffic is banking up and will just sail into the roundabout before realising they can’t go where they wanted to and that they’ve ended up blocking other entries and exits. The way most drivers use a roundabout is a snapshot of all that’s wrong with the world.

So, what do the rules say? In a nutshell, the rules say that you’ve got to be in the correct lane, if there are two, indicate if turning and then give-way to traffic already on the roundabout. Simple. So why can’t 90% of drivers get it right? To make it easier, the below comes from the Roads and Maritime Authority (NSW) website, but it’s the same across the country, one of the few road rules that is.

And, if you get driving on a roundabout wrong, fines and demerits can be applied to both drivers and cyclists, although the latter are likely to only cop a fine rather than demerits. Depending on which State or Territory you live in, fines and demerits are usually around $150 and up to three demerit points. The fines and demerits usually relate to failing to give-way or failing to indicate…

And some pub trivia… the modern roundabout was ‘invented’ in the 1960s in the UK, as was the decision to make it mandatory to give-way, although that law had been in place in New York since the 1920s (which had circular junctions; large versions of the roundabout). Prior to the mini-roundabout we know today, many major cities around the world had circular junctions, with the Place de l’Étoile around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris probably the most famous (1907); although it wasn’t the first with a circular junction constructed in Bath, UK in the 1700s.

The rules:

Going straight ahead

  1. Slow down and prepare to give way as you approach the roundabout.
  2. On approach you can be in either lane, unless otherwise marked on road.
  3. When going straight ahead you do not need to indicate on approach.
  4. You must give way to traffic already on the roundabout if there is any risk of collision.
  5. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic.
  6. You must indicate a left turn just before you exit unless it is not practical to do so.

Going left

  1. Slow down and prepare to give way as you approach the roundabout.
  2. On approach you must be in the left lane unless otherwise marked on the road, and indicate a left turn.
  3. You must give way to traffic already on the roundabout if there is any risk of a collision.
  4. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic.
  5. Stay in the left lane.
  6. Keep your left indicator on until you have exited the roundabout.

Going right

  1. Slow down and prepare to give way as you approach the roundabout.
  2. On approach you must be in the right lane unless otherwise marked on the road, and indicate a right turn.
  3. You must give way to traffic already on the roundabout if there is any risk of a collision.
  4. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic.
  5. Stay in the right lane.
  6. You must indicate a left turn just before your exit unless it is not practical to do so.


Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jane Speechley
Jane Speechley
3 years ago

Wait, wait, wait … given the frequency of roundabouts in Canberra, are you suggesting that something that will bring about the downfall of all humanity would start in Canberra !?

Actually, you might be on to something there … never mind …

Der0
Der0
3 years ago

It’s astonishing that roundabouts are just so hard to do for so many people.
Maybe there’s an app for that….

Guest
Guest
3 years ago

Ahh, but the Arc de Triomphe has a priority to the right rule. (i.e. you as the person in the circular junction give way to those entering the junction) unlike nearly the rest of France.

Shin
Shin
3 years ago

The problem with roundabouts in Australia is that people speed into them and tailgate cars entering, so anyone on a side road or who has actually slowed down can’t get in – so the traffic smoothing doesn’t work. In the UK drivers actually give everyone a turn instead of using speed of entry to turn them into rights of way.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober