Roundabouts are new…or are they?
Change is always within us. If you’re able to be flexible you can accept change fairly easily. We change our appearance, style and possessions quite often. How well do you accept change? Our traffic patterns have often changed throughout the years and the vehicles we drive definitely change every few years. These changes are often received with open arms by drivers, but there are changes that some drivers have a difficult time accepting. Major roadway changes are difficult for many drivers to accept. This may include higher speed limits, more lanes, and traffic lights. And now, traffic circles and roundabouts are popping up where traffic light intersections used to be. Are you open minded enough to accept these changes?
Year after year across our land we’re seeing more roundabouts popping up at intersections as opposed to seeing traffic lights. Some drivers are excited about this while other drivers are quite upset. There may even be those who are sitting on the fence – not sure whether they like it or not. Perhaps they are an open minded sceptic – sceptical that it will work but open minded enough to listen and watch. Which are you? Roundabouts were first constructed in North America over 100 years ago and in Europe in the 1800’s in the form of traffic circles.
Roundabouts are quite safe if used correctly. The basic rules, which are usually signed at each opening at the roundabout, means you shouldn’t drive beside another road user when you enter. Let the driver pass before you enter. Choose the correct lane before you reach the roundabout as lane changes are prohibited and dangerous while in the roundabout. Signs are quite visible before you reach the roundabout that can help you make that choice. This usually means that drivers can enter a multilane roundabout with space on their sides. This can make their exit onto the new road much easier.
There’s actually less waiting for openings while leaving the roundabouts compared to waiting at a traffic light. The most dangerous thing most drivers do is make a left turn at a traffic light. This can be avoided at roundabouts. At worst case, if there is a collision, it’s at a lower speed since drivers will have to reduce speed before entering the roundabout. Since it’s rare for vehicles to stop at a roundabout, it helps to keep traffic moving along and avoid delays.
Signalling to leave the roundabout is always a good idea so to let the driver who wants to enter the roundabout know you’re leaving so they can take their turn at entering. By the way, a right turn signal is required as you’re steering to the right when you’re leaving. A left turn signal only confuses drivers even more.
As with any intersection, keep an eye out for pedestrians as you approach the roundabout and as you approach your exit. Pedestrians should wait for a gap before crossing the road at the roundabout. There are no walk symbols and lights at a roundabout, so ensure you walk when safe to do so if you’re a pedestrian.
Like anything else, you’ll need to stay patient and learn to get used to the changes a roundabout brings to your community. And the more we change, the more we stay the same.