The Vartazarian Law Firm

Roundabouts are spinning drivers in circles

Stoplights, stop signs and right-angle intersections - all of these are familiar to drivers like you the road. However, a new type of intersection is eliminating the need for all three of these features. Like the round invention of the wheel that put us on the road, roundabouts are changing the way we move. You might also hear the term traffic circle or rotaries to refer to a roundabout depending on the size or local vernacular.

According to CityLab, California has the second-highest number of roundabouts of any state in the U.S. From 2013 to 2014 alone, the number of roundabouts in the U.S. grew by more than 200 percent. But, this rapid growth is putting drivers in a spin both in their cars and in their heads.

Many drivers are still confused by roundabouts

Many California drivers don't like using roundabouts. Still, roundabouts are credited with reducing traffic congestion and both the number and severity of accidents. However, roundabouts aren't as effective if drivers don't know how to use them.

Here are the steps to driving safely in a roundabout:

1. Slow down

A roundabout may require you to reduce speeds from 30 or 45 mph to 10 or 20 mph. Slowing down will allow you to assess the intersection before entering it.

2. Choose your lane

In a roundabout, you must travel in a counter-clockwise direction. Although everyone is going to the right, the direction in you wish to exit the roundabout should dictate which lane you choose.

In a two-lane roundabout, if you want to go straight or left should choose the left lane. If you want to go to the immediate right, pick the right lane.

3. Yield to traffic and pedestrians

Look left and wait for traffic already in the roundabout to pass before entering.

4. Enter the roundabout

Enter the roundabout and stay in your chosen lane until the exit. Do not change lanes in a roundabout.

5. Exit the roundabout

When you want to exit the roundabout, signal right and continue straight in your designated direction.

Roundabouts are highly prevalent in California and are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Drivers who understand how to use roundabouts properly can work to reduce traffic congestion and the risk of an accident as designed.

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