By on May 17, 2013

roundabout

The city of Atlanta (Motto: “Home of the airport where you changed planes last Christmas”) has installed a roundabout at a rather busy intersection near my house. This is highly entertaining if you’re watching from a safe distance, such as a nearby restaurant patio, or possibly South Carolina. But actually driving in this roundabout is the closest most Atlantans come every day to serious injury, or at least a rather large fender dent.

We all know it’s true: Americans aren’t fond of roundabouts. In fact, a new survey says 93 percent of Americans would rather stub their toe on furniture in the middle of the night when trying to locate the bathroom than drive through a roundabout. Admittedly, the facts of this survey are highly disputed, primarily because I just made it up. But there’s no arguing that we’d rather have a traditional intersection, which is more dangerous, but less confusing. For those of you thinking that roundabouts aren’t that confusing, just remember: this is the country that bought a million PT Cruisers.

Fortunately, I’ve prepared a few tips on how to successfully negotiate a roundabout. I recommend printing this out and storing it in your car. That way, when a roundabout approaches, you can take your eyes off the road and frantically search for it as you drive through, thereby becoming the best driver in the roundabout.

Tip #1: Yield to traffic inside roundabout. This should go without saying, which is why I’ve decided to mention it. When you’re approaching a roundabout, you must yield to cars currently inside it. Note to Scion tC drivers: “yield” does not mean “downshift and floor it.”

In reality, most drivers don’t have a problem with this. Usually, people are more than willing to yield to drivers inside the roundabout, and drivers near the roundabout, and schoolchildren at recess several blocks from the roundabout. They do this as they stare into the sky, hoping a traffic light will suddenly appear and tell them to proceed. Which leads us to…

Tip #2: Be assertive. Whenever I approach the Scary New Atlanta Roundabout, I always seem to be stuck behind a Volvo 240DL. This means two things: one is that we will sit at the roundabout entrance for the next nine minutes in case someone from two counties over should consider driving through later in the afternoon. And two: as we wait, I will be staring at an NPR bumper sticker.

Yes, it’s true that you have to yield to traffic in the roundabout. But you also have to push your way in if there’s an opening, like when you’re leaving Dodger Stadium with everyone else in the middle of the seventh. And for God’s sake, when you get inside…

Tip #3: Don’t yield to traffic outside the roundabout. Once our NPR-loving friend in the 240DL gets into the roundabout, the real fun begins. As he approaches each entrance, he sees a waiting car and thinks: That used to be me! So he stops to let the other driver go, disrupting the flow of traffic. The sole exception is if the other driver is in a Scion tC, in which case he’s already forced his way into the roundabout and may be rolled over on the other side with techno music blaring.

Really, folks: once you’re in the roundabout, continue until your destination. And when you get there…

Tip #4: Signal your way out. Most drivers believe there’s no roundabout turn signal protocol. Actually, that isn’t strictly true: many drivers put their left turn signals on as they go through the roundabout since they are, technically, moving left. This is approximately as helpful as a NASCAR driver putting on his left turn signal for an entire race.

In actuality, you should use your right turn signal before leaving a roundabout, thereby giving waiting drivers the opportunity to enter. Otherwise they’re stuck making assumptions about when you might leave. And in the world of roundabouts…

Tip #5: Don’t assume. Assumptions lead to 86 percent of all roundabout collisions, according to the same company who did that poll about toe-stubbing. The main roundabout assumption is that a driver will leave before he’s good and ready.

Just a refresher: when I’m in a roundabout, it is my God-given right to exit wherever I want. In fact, I can drive around in circles for weeks, challenging anyone to enter at their own risk, sort of like a foe in an early Super Mario game. At least, that’s how most drivers think, displaying the same level of entitlement that a 13-year-old girl might get from having an iPhone.

Feel free to share other roundabout tips. Surely, there are a few I don’t know. After all, I’m new at this whole roundabout thing – and most of my experience comes from following a Volvo 240DL.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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123 Comments on “Tips for Driving in a Roundabout...”


  • avatar

    I think you’re wrong about signalling. What I learned (assuming counter-clockwise, driving-on-the-right roundabouts; reverse for clockwise ones)

    – if you’re turning onto a roundabout and exiting at the first exit, signal right.
    – if you’re turning onto a roundabout and exiting at another exit, signal left until you pass the last exit before yours, then change your signal to right, and exit.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah- that is precisely what I meant. Sorry if it didnt come off that way. Although it doesn’t much matter, since I don’t think anyone has ever followed this rule.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      I love roundabouts, but honestly, skip the signals. I KNOW you’re going to turn right, but I don’t know WHEN, and your signal doesn’t convey that information. And for god’s sake, don’t trust anyone else’s signals in a roundabout, because they’re almost certainly doing it wrong. Seriously, just look at what they do. If the other driver would hit you if they didn’t exit, assume they won’t exit, even if they’re signalling, until they do. If they do exit at the turnoff before your entry, you have a window to go, even if you’re driving a Scion iQ.

    • 0 avatar
      creamy

      Not what we learned here in the great land o’ cheddar: http://dot.wi.gov/safety/motorist/roaddesign/roundabouts/docs/rab-brochure.pdf – according to the powers that be you only signal to exit a roundabout.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    OMG those things are fun! I got to experience one in southeastern PA.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    A couple of intersections near my house have kinda-sorta-semi-roundabouts–stop signs in two directions out of four, with a circle in the middle. Invariably when I approach one of them, someone is either running the stop sign, stopping unnecessarily, or stopped, but so far into the roundabout that you can’t get through.
    Roundabouts are only safer if people know how to use them. Since most Americans and Canadians don’t, roundabouts significantly increase the chance of being crashed into–because even if you know and follow these tips, the three cars around you probably don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Zoom

      Roundabouts are safer, whether you know how to use them or not. Accidents are typically the low speed, side glancing variety, and not the high speed, head on or T-bone type that happens at stop lights or stop signs.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        They aren’t safer if you’re a cyclist or pedestrian and you live in a tourist area where a huge plurality of road users don’t have a clue what to do when faced by one. They’re more dangerous still when the imbeciles that put them in landscape them with trees and large shrubs that hide your presence until it is too late. They also install them here at intersections where minor side streets cross major thoroughfares, creating traffic flow problems where none existed.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        Roundabouts are safer only when they are large enough.

        Take this one for example: http://goo.gl/maps/2T5US

        Say all you want about signaling and have the best of intentions… But it only takes about a second to go from one exit to the next and by the time you get your signal in, you’re already turning. And if you’re not familiar with the area, add the reaction time to realize you’re coming up to your exit.

        I find that most roundabouts in the US are simply too small. In countries where they do them right they are huge and the large ones are not only safer, they are easier to navigate (which makes them safer) because you have time to find your exit, signal, and react.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    I saw the equivalent of the left-turn signal thing in Ireland a lot, only it was a right-turn signal there. The cases where I saw it were when the roundabout was level, except for being crowned, and you could drive over the center concrete circle in the middle.

    If no one else was in the roundabout, the custom if you wanted to turn right was to drive over the concrete center circle to the right with a right-turn signal, instead of driving 270 degrees around. These were all tiny volume roundabouts, however.

    In the larger volume roundabouts, you couldn’t do this because the center had a curb, er, kerb. You could still put on a right-turn signal to indicate that you weren’t taking the first few exits and that you were intending to take a further exit, at which point you could switch to a left-turn signal. Not everyone followed that custom, but some people did.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Having read a few of your posts now, I think you’re trying to be Dave Barry!

    Now do an article on Diverging Diamonds.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I grew up with these things in and around Boston where they’re called (or used to be 50 years ago) ” Traffic Rotarys ” .

    As you mentioned , they’re great at keeping traffic moving as long as you remember to drive instead of do the average American dummy thing (stop,look,ponder) =8-) .

    Bostonians never have any troubles as we don’t like to slow down nor stop unless one _has_ to . (like for a Dunkies or whatnot) .

    As a yoot I enjoyed closing my eyes , mashing the throttle and hollering ” Blessed Mother of Acceleration , DON’T FAIL ME NOW!” ~

    For some odd reason this tended to upset the passengers riding with me but I never had even a scratch and the other drivers didn’t seem to notice .

    Roundabouts in Centro America are FUN ! .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy

      Current Boston resident, pass through 4 rotary’s on the way to and from work every day. There are several that even have turn camber built in… as if I needed an extra invitation to be aggressive through them.

      Hitting one with no traffic = personal skid pad.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        +100

        No shortage of “rotaries” in Northern New England. They work well, though there is a special place in Hell reserved for the officials who decide to put stop signs at the entrances to them. Also, have seen some around (not in New England) with big signs that traffic ENTERING has the right of way, which is also stupid.

        I have been known to hang the tail out all the way around one a couple of times. :-) Also good for practicing the Scandinavian Flick in the winter time.

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy

          Never seen any in the Boston area with stop signs, praise the karma of cars for that. The number of idiots who blow through the traffic circle and through the park land in the middle and onto the other side (missing the trees and flowers meant to beautiful the thing) is astounding.

          +1000 for tail out and scandinavian flicks. First time I got the tail out in the ST was on a rain slicked rotary, sunday afternoon, not a car in site… entered quick, power on until I hit the apex, lifted off throttle….weeeee. Unreal fun.

        • 0 avatar
          Variant

          Ha! We have one here that has not one, but two traffic signals IN THE MIDDLE of it, one on each side, for a pedestrian crossing.

        • 0 avatar
          Jellodyne

          Traffic entering has the right-away?! That’s the worst thing I ever heard. If the traffic already in the circle doesn’t have the right-away to leave it, what happens when the circle fills up and there’s people still looking to get into it? All cars just stay where they are until the end of time?

          • 0 avatar
            Beerboy12

            I think it is used where traffic is heavy one direction but not the cross street. It allows the few cars entering from the not so busy sides to get in.

        • 0 avatar
          wagonsonly

          There are a couple in Massachusetts that reserve the right of way for entering traffic – one on each end of the Rt. 202 bridge (the Muller Bridge) between Holyoke and South Hadley gives the right of way to traffic entering the bridge on the Holyoke side and exiting in South Hadley. There’s another rotary on Route 33 in Chicopee that has three traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing – it’s basically a five-way intersection with crosswalks and a rotary that goes AROUND Route 33.

    • 0 avatar
      Windy

      So true I also grew up in the commonwealth and I like rotarys and they have started to show up in Maine they make a lot of sense for low to medium speed traffic engineering… I also like the roundabout as used for motorway junctions in the UK they sometimes use part time traffic lights when needed for reasons of traffic volume.

      It is just a matter of education.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They used to be called rotaries everywhere in America for about a hundred years, until traffic engineers decided to adopt the British “roundabout” name. It was a guy named Eno, who never drove in his life, who came up with them and earned the title “Father of Traffic Safety”. There’s a rotary on the Cape Cod side of the Bourne Bridge, and if you ever saw tourists in July who missed the Sagamore Bridge and crossed the canal at Bourne, you wouldn’t consider the rotary a safety measure. Remember also, the Italians were enthusiastic adopters of rotaries, and I challenge anyone who has driven one in Italy to describe his/her experience as “safe”.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Doug,
    Having just returned from driving in southern France for three weeks, I can whole-heartedly endorse your tips for negotiating the roundabout (or “rotary” as my Renault / Tom-Tom nav unit described it). In my view, however, the danger associated with these eminently efficient traffic controls in the US is only partly the fault of the American driver.

    In the US, traffic engineers seem to believe that a roundabout is a miniature version of a limited-access loop road and therefore has to be the size of a small county, as evidenced by the aerial photo above. And engineers never seem to use them unless they have absolutely no other choice (making them pretty darned rare).

    Roundabouts in Europe are small, traffic signal-free ways to resolve an intersection with multiple streets that do not intersect at 90 degrees. (Their road system is two thousand years of accumulated Roman roads, medieval market paths, and modern streets and highways.) Consequently, roundabouts are scattered across the country-side in France, making sure that everyone learns to use them and at a much slower speed than you’d expect.

    After about a week, I felt pretty comfortable negotiating these things, including watching out for the hot hatches and German makes – both stereotypically driven by speed-freaks and jerks (not one-in-the-same, by the way).

    • 0 avatar

      Very good point. In fairness, the one above is absolutely enormous because it handles approximately every single car in Washington DC on a daily basis. Where in Southern France did you go? As I type this, I’m wearing a Monaco T-Shirt and eagerly awaiting the Grand Prix…

      • 0 avatar
        alexndr333

        Most of the traffic circles I’ve seen in the US are oversized – I’m thinking of one in Long Beach, California that is huge compared to a typical European rotary and it flumoxes every other driver who enters it.

        As for my travels, I was in Provence (Avignon, Arles, Aix, Marseille, etc.) for two weeks and Nice / Monaco for a week. I’m a history nut, so Roman ruins, medieval castles, ancient cathedrals and museums are why I go.

        Driving a diesel 5-speed Renault was a bonus and as a native southern Californian, I can’t imagine not having a car. The fuel, parking and insurance were freaking expensive, though.

        • 0 avatar
          sckid213

          The Long Beach Traffic Circle is gnarly. I grew up in Socal and didn’t even know it was there until one day I was going somewhere in Long Beach and my nav system lady commanded me to “Enter the Traffic Circle.” I was like “enter the what???”

          Barely got out alive.

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            Santa Barbara has an insane traffic circle at the Milpas exit. It’s more of an oval, and if you’re exiting the freeway crosstraffic comes flying into the circle from almost behind you. Google map it if you want to see how not to design a roundabout.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          The Los Alamitos one in Long Beach is that large because it started as a traffic circle. At some point in the 90s, it got converted to a roundabout, but it has some dedicated right-turn lanes — e.g. PCH going east or Lakewood to PCH west — in addition to the main flow. It also has that weird outer secondary circle.

          However, I will add that that intersection became a lot safer after they converted it to a roundabout plus the dedicated lanes and outer circle.

          It’s not as good an example due to its complexity, but it does work. A lot of roundabouts are smaller if they replace what would be a 4-way stop or a traffic light that’s underused, although they can also be bigger if they replace a diamond interchange.

          I’ve seen one in NorCal in an East Bay residential neighborhood, but the most I saw were probably in Massachusetts in the Medford/Malden/Revere areas — MA-60 has a few, as does 1A. I believe I-93 also has a few exits in that area that use roundabouts instead of diamond interchanges.

        • 0 avatar

          Expensive but worth it every year or two. I can’t imagine doing it all the time. At least the rental fees themselves are cheap – I often find renting a car in Europe is cheaper than doing in the States.

          Haven’t been to Provence (I can never tear myself away from Italy) but of course Nice and Monaco are a car lover’s dream destinations. Well, and a history nut’s too. :)

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          You should see what the British are doing with theirs (and don’t forget, they drive on the wrong side of the road too):

          http://www.strangecosmos.com/images/content/179947.jpg

          http://aphs.worldnomads.com/safetyhub/28559/double_roundabout.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Come the revolution, the traffic engineers responsible for malevolent US roundabout will be first up against the wall. Here is exhibit 1 http://goo.gl/maps/xQwo3

      Anyone directly familiar with this “conceived out of wedlock” atrocity probably also remembers that this is its second incarnation. Originally it was a very bad double roundabout arrangement. It was re-engineered a few years back with the intention of making it worse.

      In this fine state a bend in the road is a hazard. When it rains here, most driver slow to half the posted speed while the Scion TC drivers double their normal speed. Imagine what a properly designed roundabout would do to the driving population …

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        What’s wrong with that setup. You can probably get through that whole interchange in less than 30 seconds instead of waiting at the first light for 2+ minutes only to hit a red light on the other side and wait another 2+ minutes.

        The roundabout above actually show how they actually work better in the US than in Europe. You have multiple lanes with clearly marked exits. If you want to turn right, stay right, left, stay left, and straight in both lanes.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Check this one out:

        http://goo.gl/maps/nDnNW

        http://goo.gl/y3BnQ

        Bell Circle, Revere MA.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      ” resolve an intersection with multiple streets that do not intersect at 90 degrees” … Perfect for Seattle then! I have been saying that for a while now :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      That’s funny I just posted above that US roundabouts are too small. Different perspectives! But you’re right that Europe has small ones too..but they tend to be intersections without a lot of traffic. I think the rule of thumb is that the more traffic, the bigger it should be. If you’re the only driver in it, or only sharing it with one other driver at most, a small one is a cinch. With lots of cars using it at once a small one is a hazard. The key is that it needs to be large enough that drivers need time to recognize their exit and signal in time for other drivers to react.

  • avatar
    ajla

    There is a local traffic circle (or Roundabout, I’m not sure what the exact distinction is), that I swear to you has yield signs on the INSIDE of the circle.

  • avatar

    Come up to SW Ontario Canada where we have lots of them, I also remember one in Edinburgh, Scotland that has Traffic Lights in the Middle, as there is too much traffic there to allow a Round about to work properly!

  • avatar
    Reino

    Vail is a great place to watch tourons try to navigate roundabouts. Most think that yield sign is a stop sign. So they stop and wait for a chance to get in. But then they merge in slower than normal and disrupt the flow of the roundabout.

    When I am entering the roundabout, and there isn’t a car in front of me, I’ll watch traffic from a distance, and time my entrance just perfectly to merge in right behind a car inside. But as I’m cruising up to the entrance, that person will see me, and suddenly slow down because she thinks I’m trying to get in front of her, instead of behind her. So then I have to stop until she is assured I’m not coming in front of her, and then start from a stop like the aforementioned above.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m from Colorado. My very first roundabout experiences were in Vail. I loved them immensely, even though the issue was precisely as you describe. Lots of tourists only compounded the problem.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      That roundabout was very controversial when it was put in. However it proved effective in relieving traffic congestion flowing through that intersection.
      I had someone there not realize that if you miss your exit, you just take another lap. Rather, they came out of the inside lane in front of me forcing me to stop with about a foot of distance between me and their White Cherokee’s (in motion) right side sheet metal. I got rear-ended, but within the functional tolerance of the five mile/hr bumpers.
      Roundabouts have been proliferating in Colorado since, and I love it.
      Astonishingly to me, the IIHS actually likes these things, confounding my judgement of their goals as being to make everyone’s trip as slow and mind numbing as possible for the sake of every last 0.00001% reduction in traffic fatalities.

      Just for fun look at this . . . . http://www.gtack.com/p.php?p=rzqsscb&s=3

      • 0 avatar

        I think the IIHS’s theory is that the type of accident is a lot less lethal with a roundabout. I’ve seen the Magic Roundabout – the videos are even crazier! Also, I love that they call it “The Magic Roundabout” in the street signs.

      • 0 avatar

        Another favorite from my youth My aunt used to live near this one and I drove thru it many times but never considered it a proper rotary
        http://wikimapia.org/1678684/The-East-Longmeadow-Rotary

    • 0 avatar
      justgregit

      I was going to actually mention the Vail/Avon roundabouts as being the most foolproof roundabouts of all time, and yet people still have trouble with them. As you pull up they ACTUALLY HAVE A SIGN TELLING YOU WHAT LANE TO BE IN DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU WANT TO EXIT.

      I honestly don’t think it could possibly get simpler, and yet people circle endlessly before driving their Yukon XL over your vehicle as they finally give up and decide to just straight through the circle.

  • avatar
    DEIVIONCRX

    I hated roundabouts until i went to the UK last summer. We rented a 1.2l VW Polo and did about 1000 miles in England/Scotland. I’ve come to love them, i kinda wish they would build more over here. Unless its a large one with traffic lights it doesn’t impede traffic flow near as much as a stop light. If its clear to the right you just keep on going. Some of the bigger ones even have a left turn lane all to itself, no messing with the roundabout at all.

  • avatar
    MAQ

    Down here, South of the Border, we call them “Glorietas” and they are very common and work quite well if you understand the FIRST RULE:

    NEVER, EVER, MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH OTHER DRIVERS!

    If you do, you will hesitate while trying to guess his/her intention and all is lost as he/she will charge ahead and leave you to wait for the next opening. Best to just look straight ahead and hold your line. Amazingly few accidents using this method. I’ve never had one and have seen very few.

    Someday the US may catch up with the rest of the world and learn how to use these but, then again, you still use the incredibly ridiculous foot/inches system.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Inept drivers in Mexico (cities), take ‘themselves’ out of rotation. You have to know what you’re doing AND drive defensively, if not offensively.

      In the States? Just your standard cloverleaf interchange is too much for many Americans and bring light traffic to a grinding halt. Simple merging is a bizarre concept for too many American.

      Standard cloverleafs are being remodeled with added bridges separating the exiting/entering. Some with 3rd level ‘flyovers’.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I know how to drive in roundabouts and I still don’t care for them due too the potential for a long wait when traffic is heavy. In a addition (when lots of traffic is present) I have had to accelerate extremely fast when an opening presents itself lest I cause an accident or wait for a long time. because of this I don’t find roundabouts any better at saving time or being safer unless they are empty. Give me an intersection with a traffic light anytime. I always look both ways even though the light is green before pulling out so I can try and avoid being t-boned by another driver.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    There’s a new interstate going up near us, and circuses/roundabouts are being used where side streets intersect the highway’s access roads. Perfect for my Miata–Yippy!

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    We have some here in Clearwater and the tourists are completely confused with them. The one at the beach is especially fun because it has 6 or so roads converging and each has double lanes entering and exiting. Total mass confusion, and when tourists get confused they tend to just come to a complete stop, oblivious to anyone around them. But thanks to the double lanes I can usually just dart around the morons and drive on through. Oh and our roundabout has stoplights at some of the entry roads… isn’t the point of the roundabout to avoid stoplights?!?!? Our traffic engineer should be fired.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      There is an odd one in Port Salerno, FL: its a traffic oval?!? Not a true circle or roundabout – instead imagine a traffic circle but with the two ends stretched to cover a larger area with some landscaping in the middle (like a median). Its weird but seems to fix the confusion by forcing people to drive on two parallel but separated one-way streets that merge back together into a standard divided (two-lane) road. At the merge point other roads branch off that go at odd angles, so a standard 4 way + style intersection wouldn’t work.

      My problem with roundabouts – pure PITA with a trailer, as its a constant worry about turning too sharp and hitting a curb. Now in my 350Z its fun to try blast thru an empty roundabout clipping each apex like a tight chicane as I do my best to drive straight thru.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Yeah, the Clearwater Beach circle is a real ball.

  • avatar
    becauseCAR

    Don’t hate on the people with a Volvo 240 with an NPR bumper sticker.

    They’re actually fun people. (Though only from 6-8 pm. Then they start going on about their new theories on whatever new movement is shaping neorealism.)

  • avatar
    becauseCAR

    Don’t hate on the people with a Volvo 240 that have an NPR bumper sticker.

    They’re actually fun people. (Though only from 6-8 pm. Then they start going on about their new theories on whatever new movement is shaping neorealism.)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m happy to tell you sir as a Volvo 240 owner I am the exact opposite of type of Volvo owner you describe. I think 240 in its prime attracted a unique buyer whether they be in the Che camp or not, but as it has aged it attracts a variety of different kinds of potential owners across the political spectrum and up and down the socioeconomic scale.

      • 0 avatar

        In reality, I’m actually a 240 fan. It’s the Scion tC you have to be careful of.

      • 0 avatar
        becauseCAR

        I’m happy to hear that, but I live in Berkeley.

        People here hold on to their 240′s long enough that I have never come across one for sale here. Even on Craigslist.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          A testament to the model’s design and in part to a favorable climate. I suspect 240s and 740s will be running around California until the end of time.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I haven’t seen one on the streets here in years. They were scrapped when their owners got the green religion. I wouldn’t be surprised if they drove them to the shredder rather than trading them on a Prius and having them continue to waste gas and pollute in the hands of someone that wasn’t well off enough to be as good a person as they are.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            For shame.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            My neighbor has one of each and keeps them in good repair. There are a lot in Berkeley, as becauseCAR said, but you’ll see 240s and 740s on all Bay Area freeways for this reason, yes.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    How do you drive in a Yes song?

  • avatar
    7402

    The reason roundabouts don’t catch on in the USA is that many jurisdictions will introduce stop signs, yield signs, and even traffic lights at the edges of and even within the traffic circles. Washington DC is particularly bad at this. They even have traffic circles with avenues running straight through them (not under or over–though there are some of those as well).

    There should be only one sign associated with a traffic circle: a picture of arrows in a circle.

    The roundabout in front of Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) south of Alexandria, Virginia, requires traffic already in the circle to yield to traffic entering. It’s very confusing and a good way to nearly get hit.

    • 0 avatar

      In DC, I think it’s a volume thing. The above photo is Dupont circle. It just handles so damn many cars, they don’t seem to have a choice. That said, I do agree it basically defeats the purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        Highway27

        The traffic circles in DC are categorically different from modern roundabouts, and are generally inferior. They are an attempt to keep some of l’Enfant’s design of public squares, and they’ve been trying to make them work while keeping the parks or what have you that is in the middle (which you wouldn’t have in a modern roundabout, as you want to keep people out of there).

  • avatar
    Zackman

    There is a huge traffic circle in north St. Louis, the Halls Ferry Circle. THREE lanes! If you get stuck in the inside lane during rush hour, you’ll be cruising there for quite a while!

    Back in the 60′s when we still cruised, it was fashionable to see how many times you could drive around it before getting chased out by the cops! I only made it around five times before I had had enough. The unofficial record was 86 times!

    Three roads converged at that circle, and two of them intersected very close together, making for some interesting exits! Like a fighter pilot, your head had to be on a swivel to avoid trouble.

    Between one of the intersections, there was a Steak ‘n’ Shake and we used to sit there and watch the fun.

    Now, in my community, traffic circles are popping up with increasing frequency. Little ones, at four-way and one at a T-intersection. Not sure why that rated a circle, but it’s there.

    There’s also an interesting traffic experiment in progress on Ohio Rte. 4 Bypass in Fairfield, OH. In order to cross the highway, you must make a right turn, get into a U-turn lane, wait for a light, make a U-turn, and be in the correct lane to either turn right on the road you were on, or to drive on Rte. 4! Goofiest thing I ever saw. Three intersections have this, and for the life of me, I can’t find the benefit of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Highway27

      A roundabout is a good solution even at T-intersections where there’s a history of high lefts in or out of the T, and delays associated with those movements. They’re very good at mixing in left turns with through traffic. And frequently, a roundabout can be put in with less additional paved area and right of way area than an auxiliary lane and still operate better. So you get better operation with lower cost and lower environmental impact.

      The other thing you talk about is called a Michigan Left, generally. The point of it is that left turns are taken out of a major signal, reducing a conflict point and a signal phase.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        The Michigan funny turn, yes! Because a U-turn into oncoming traffic is always safer than a left turn at a controlled intersection… I never did get that.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        We have those too but in NC they are called “superstreets”. No one knows why. It’s not because we refuse to give Michigan its props… the official term for those concrete dividers here is “Jersey barrier”

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          The Superstreet concept is a superset that includes Michigan Lefts as part of the traffic flow.

          A typical intersection with a Michigan left has two streets crossing at one traffic light and then left turns are made by taking a right-turn then a U-turn instead of a multi-phase traffic light.

          For a Superstreet, there is no single traffic light where the two streets cross. In fact, the two streets don’t officially cross at all. The dominant (“super”) street gets the priority, and the subservient street gets cut in two so that all straight-thru traffic on the minor street must also take a Michigan Left then a right-turn. The Wikipedia article is illustrative of this:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstreet

          NCDOT has used these in NC on 15-501 in Chapel Hill and also on US 17 in the Wilmington area. There are some in Texas as well.

    • 0 avatar
      mcarr

      Ha ha. This. Roundabouts are fun until you come on the 2 or 3 lane ones and then you realize what a fiendish device they are.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      south kingstown area near me has a few without the light since when the highway was planned they didn’t figure on the housing boom in this suburban area always makes for a fun game when RIDOT has your exit blocked off again to fill in the same pot hole they fill in every 3 months so you are forced to drive down rt 138 pull into a u-turn lane then brave 50-60MPH traffic during rush hour and quickly get up to speed to get back in the right direction

  • avatar
    Highway27

    Something important to remember is that while they may look similar, modern roundabouts differ significantly from old traffic circles or rotaries. Things like signals, pedestrians or bikes in the center, straight through paths, all are unwelcome in modern roundabouts. These changes have made them safer and easier to navigate, although the unfamiliarity with them still catches new people out.

    One thing I think is really important to remember in a roundabout: you can go around again! If you miss your exit, just go around and be more prepared for it next time. Don’t stop in the left lane of a multi-lane roundabout and hope for an opening to get over there to get out. Just go around again and move over to the correct lane. Conversely, if you realize you’re exiting a roundabout where you didn’t want to, just go with it, and find some other place to turn around and come back. Never stop in the roundabout! That’s when accidents happen, both to you and to other people. (This is just part of my larger philosophy of driving that is “Drive like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t. You can always turn around later.”)

    One thing I actually have a problem with in modern roundabouts is too many signs. Looking through one, it’s almost a forest of signs, most of them One Way, Do Not Enter, and Wrong Way. Signs that shouldn’t be necessary by the design of the facility. It pushes you to go right around it, just follow along.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Atlanta must be behind the times somewhat as our roundabouts can have two lanes. It is best if drivers in the outer lanes observe the lane markings and not cut the “corner” by running over me in the inner lane. Yes you idiot Target employee, use one lane and one only.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Think I’ll circle the rotary in downtown Franklin, TN tomorrow afternoon for a couple hours in case that Batmobile comes through.

  • avatar
    jaje

    We have a couple roundabouts where I live and love them (except when towing a trailer but I don’t go that route). For me they are much safer to other cars b/c you must slow down to enter or wind up as the Scion tC who somehow managed to get his car to mount the horse statute fountain. Was talking to the city planner and they noted any accidents there are infrequent and low speed with little to no injury. OTOH they just put in a light at a 4 way stop by my house and we’ve had 5 wrecks in 2 weeks with many that are 35 mph t bone with major trauma. That was the reason why I called the city planner and asked why they did a light (stupid people understand red / green but not slow down and yield).

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The evidence that roundabouts are essentially safer and promote traffic flow is overwhelming. To not implement a roundabout because drivers are to inexperienced is a form of blunt stupidity. Seattle with it’s many crazy 7 point intersections at completely unexplained MAD angels could do with a few and you know what, give drivers a bit of time and they will get used to it, even start to like them because Americans, like other people around the world, just aren’t that stupid. Change is good, don’t be afraid.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m pleased to see not all people here are so afraid of anything new they hate these safe and traffic flow improvers , as mentioned ” DEAL WITH IT ” and after a few passes you’ll wonder why you ever worried .

    The one in Borrego Springs , Ca. is HUGE for the minimal traffic it handles , they use the grassy center for a Farmer’s market , good thing there’s not many ignorant kids nor drunks there….

    BTW : there’s a clear difference between ignorant and stupid although many don’t seem to understand it .

    I have faith in American’s ability to adapt to and embrace new ideas , that’s part of why we’re the best country in the world .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    PaulyG

    Growing up in South Jersey, we had a ton of them. They were called “Circles” and there really was no right of way whether you were inside or entering. Lots of fun! Many have been removed or modified, including my favorite at RT70 and RT73 that was known as the Marlton Circle of Fear and the double circle just outside of Atlantic City for RT322 and RT 563. Here is the NJ sign:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pjchmiel/231946972/

  • avatar
    kjb911

    Note to Scion tC drivers: “yield” does not mean “downshift and floor it.”

    nailed it on the head! I have a roundabout about a block from my house that I end up using at least once a day since its the best way towards the highway and it never fails for a scion tc “driver” to use this premise. Also love how many people will not try to yield and then chuck me the bird and honk when I do not stop to let them in

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    My city, Gainesville FL, has developed a recent fetish for these things. If any city is planning on adding them, a few notes.
    1) PSAs. Let people know where they are and how to deal with them. Like “Do NOT stop and place your car in reverse if you miss your turn.” Yes, I’ve seen it.
    2) Elevate the middle area, or place a sign to increase visibility. The ones around here are covered with tire marks and chipped concrete. Testament to the many drivers who tried to go straight through.

    I admit I’m not a big fan of roundabouts, but I, and most people, can learn to live with them.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Florida in general seems to love the roundabout more than most of the other states in the union. I’m frequently in Stuart FL on business and there are at least three roundabouts in the vicinity. One is at an intersection called Confusion Corner. It must have been before the roundabout and continues to be so.

      I agree with the PSA idea. I was never taught anything about a roundabout because they weren’t common when I learned to drive in PA almost 20 years ago. When they work and everyone uses them properly, traffic flows much more efficiently. But it can be quite the clusterf*ck.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    Rod McMillen negotiating an Atlanta roundabout.

  • avatar
    JD23

    I live near a town that built a roundabout with a pedestrian crosswalk that is preceded by a traffic light – the worst of all worlds.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Sadly, in Jakarta only rule no. 2 apply. You have to fight your way through just like everywhere else. I personally find them unnerving, and it seem to be more dangerous than regular intersection. Just assume that no one’s going to let you through unless there’s no other way (he will hit you otherwise), and keep at it!

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    In Loudoun County in Northern Virginia there is an intersection of Rt. 15 and Rt. 50 known from Colonial times as “Gilberts Corner”. It’s a major commuter route from the west to the Washington DC area and the intersection had a stop light and a high accident rate. About two years ago VDOT replaced it with a network of four roundabouts. Many residents opposed the change but now most people say they wish they’d done it twenty years ago.

  • avatar
    Burger Boy

    Unfortunately most US drivers aren’t smart enough to figure out roundabouts. Travel to Europe and experience (for the most part) drivers that are knowledgeable about how to drive both at high and low speeds. Every day I watch drivers here that just can’t figure out simple stuff like four-way stops, mall entrances, entering a highway at proper speeds, and the passing lane. US driver education sucks, and it isn’t getting any better.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    I grew up in Washington, DC, where there are many roundabouts (aka
    “traffic circles” in my day) and so learned about these things early
    in my driving career. The single lane ones were not so challenging,
    but the 2 and 3 lane ones could get challenging in a hurry if you
    were not sure exactly you wanted to go. You might wind up on the
    inside lane and stay there for awhile! Where I live now, the city
    puts in a new one every chance it gets, and we have at least a dozen,
    all single lane and well signed. I also lived in Atlanta for many
    years, and experienced on a daily basis the horrors of driving in
    center city, and on the expressway system. I simply cannot imagine
    a roundabout in Big A. My mind boggles at the thought! Where is it,
    btw?

    • 0 avatar

      The roundabout in Atlanta is on the southwest corner of Emory University’s campus, connecting North Decatur and Oxford Road. If you grew up in DC you might recognize the roundabout from the photo – it’s Dupont Circle! One of my favorite areas, but a total traffic nightmare, and, as you said, you might end up stuck in the inside lane for weeks at a time.

  • avatar
    SteveRenwick

    Ensure that the car is in the proper gear upon entry. I drove a rental Fiesta in Engalnd once which had an annoying tendency to go into third instead of first. The English are nice people, but if you stall a car at a roundabout entrance, well, the veneer of civilization gets thin quickly.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My first real experience with roundabouts came at the exact same time as my first experience driving on the left side of the road. I visited the Cayman Islands where they subscribe to British road laws. So it was sort of nerve wracking at first, but after the first few attempts it became quite easy. In fact, by the end of the day the only real problem I had was turning on the wipers when I meant to turn on the blinkers. This is a problem I will probably never completely overcome. After a few trips down there I have come to loath signaled intersections, especially where traffic is light.
    I’ve never subscribed to the thinking that Americans are too stupid to figure out roundabouts. That’s like saying Americans are too stupid to use chopsticks. Well obviously if never exposed to chopsticks people will have difficulty using them, but hiding from them will never make the waiter at your favorite Chinese restaurant stop snickering at you when you ask for a fork.
    Believing Americans can’t handle roundabouts has lead to some real bonehead traffic designs. Take Thomas Circle in DC for example. It is a traffic circle that has, and I’m not making this up, 16 lights around and INSIDE the circle. That’s right, people traveling in the circle are forced to stop to let other traffic into the circle – who then have to stop at red lights to get out of the circle again.
    http://imageshack.us/a/img10/7109/thomascircle.jpg

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I know that intersection in Atlanta well. That was a real bottleneck there and I can see a roundabout being a positive to traffic flow. Now, I live in a rural state where someone’s brother-in-law must own the roundabout franchise because they’re going in everywhere, but not in the urban areas but out in the rural farm land where state roads are intersecting with roads that for the most part handle farm equipment, why? There is one section of a state hwy that has three roundabouts in about 3500 feet stretch of hwy. Which means three times you have to come to almost a complete stop from 55mph to navigate these circles which are facilitating near zero cross traffic. Who benefits from this?… The brother-in-law with the roundabout franchise

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! Yes, the Emory intersection benefits from the roundabout, once people figure it out. It would be a bad idea in rural areas, though, because as you say the speeds are so high. Very unusual, unless there’s the occasional kickback for the constructon. If you live in Illinois, it makes perfect sense…

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Just north of the state line, but the Illinois way of doing business has a tendency to spill over it’s boarders… Very perceptive, do you have in-laws from Illinois?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    It’s not the roundabouts fault though is it. Poorly placed roundabout is a nightmare, blame the engineer though, not the roundabout.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    We have a few roundabouts here in Omaha. Invariably, they are installed on long stretches of straight streets in residential areas. There purpose appears to be to interrupt the flow of traffic, not facilitate it. They are fun on a motorcycle but the lanes are narrow even for a Miata. I’m not sure you could get a fire department rescue squad through one. Don’t even think about a fire truck.

    • 0 avatar
      myheadhertz

      A suburban housing development near Milwaukee had to rip out its roundabouts when they discovered that fire trucks and large moving vans could not negotiate them. I understand the moving vans did get through somehow. But, the moving vans left a path of destruction in their wake. When you have a load to deliver YOU DELIVER!

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        …and to to think that roundabout went from planning through construction without anyone asking “Did anyone check to see if a Fire Truck or Moving Van will be able to navigate the circle?”

  • avatar
    KixStart

    In Minnesota, they’re too damned small. When traffic isn’t too heavy, the circle should be big enough and the approaches fixed so that can breeze through at a pretty good clip (over 30mph, if there’s no traffic).

    Here, they’re 25 feet across and deliberately used as “traffic calming” devices. The Powers That Be also like to put visual obstructions, so you can’t seee what’s coming at you. And many of the natives are afraid of them, which doesn’t help them at all but works in my favor.

    Dear MNDOT,

    The idea is to keep the traffic MOVING. Think about it.

    Best Regards,
    KixStart

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    There are 3 roundabouts that I navigate fairly regularly. I always thought they were easy and straightforward, but this is because I only ever encountered 1 or 2 land roundabouts.

    When I was in California, I ran into a 3 lane roundabout that exited to two outgoing lanes for all of its streets. This got very confusing to me because I would see people exiting from the middle lane onto the exit steet’s outside lane.

    I guess I can see how it makes sense, but I’ve seen too many people on the outside roundabout lane just keep going instead of exiting. Seems like its too risky someone doing that could hit the middle lane exiter. Unless that’s just actually against the rules and that person was an asshole.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    America doesn’t bother with roundabouts until Boomers reach the age where maybe we shouldn’t be driving.

    Then there’s a mad, messianic frenzy to stuff three roundabouts per city block all throughout the country thus giving Boomers non-stop panic attacks with every trip to the pharmacy.

    Conclusion: Boomers are being punished for Happy Days.

  • avatar
    raph

    We have a small roundabout at a local shopping center, took awhile for the locals to get used to it but it works pretty well.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I sincerely hope what you heard is not true.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Conclusion: Boomers are being punished for Happy Days.”…

    …and here all this time I thought it was “That 70′s Show” that caused RBB

    (Roundabout Boomer Backlash)…I Love Wisconsin!

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “I Love Wisconsin!”

    Yeah, I see from your earlier post that you’re in the Great State of 1848.

    But also that you’re still within the FFP.

    (FIBS Fallout Plume)

  • avatar
    Jon Fage

    The Region of Waterloo is a municipality about 100 kilometres west of Toronto with about 500,000 people that includes the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. In addition to being the home of the Blackberry and the Toyota Corolla, it is also Canada’s leader in the installation of roundabouts.

    This is the page for their public education campaign.

    http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/gettingaround/roundabouts.asp

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    “Look Kids….Big Ben, Parliament!”

    “It’s amazing….I can’t get left!!”

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    I’m always amazed that people can’t figure out the simple logic around being courteous with a traffic circle.

    outside lane for 1/4 or 1/2 way around
    inside lane for 1/2 or 3/4 way around

    The biggest problem with Traffic circles is that they require roughly equal volume from every direction, otherwise you could wait quite a while.


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