Too many accidents occur at the multi-lane roundabouts, which are road designs intended to improve traffic flow, but are seen by many as a source of much agitation and part to many accidents! Driving at roundabouts requires a knowledge of the rules of the road – and some extra caution.
There is not much debate about the one-lane roundabout. Most drivers understand that you have a duty to give way to the right – and few accidents and frustrations will result from this basic rule. It is however the multi-lane roundabout that leads to road rage and many side swipe accidents.
This happens when drivers are not aware of where they need to be before exiting the roundabout, drive at inappropriate speeds or fail to signal their intentions.
In the picture of a multi-lane roundabout above I have tried to illustrate the correct lane drivers should be in. This particular roundabout is actually very simple. 4 lanes enter onto 4 lanes on the roundabout.
However, most problems arise because the 4 lanes turn into 3 as Lane 1 drops away at the first exit. Drivers in Lane 2 don’t realise that Lane 1 only goes left and so as they move onto the roundabout they drift into lane 3 which in turn forces drivers in lane 3 to swerve to lane 4 and the drivers in lane 4 have nowhere to go.
You can see in my rough picture above it is actually really simple. The lanes are even painted with clear markings showing you what lane to be in. Yet drivers still get it wrong!
According to experts, which lane one should drive in a multi-lane roundabout depends on where you are driving to and the driver should know and select the appropriate lane 200m before entering the roundabout. Lane changes are not allowed in a multi-lane roundabout. Most accidents happen when a driver is trapped in the wrong lane and tries to change lanes in the roundabout.
If you are trapped in the wrong lane, drive straight through the lane, make appropriate exit, use the next intersection to get back to your destination. So, sometimes one can be in the inside lane by force of circumstances when entering the roundabout, when ideally one should be in the outside lane. Similarly, you may want to take the last exit but due to traffic are forced to enter the circle in the far left-hand lane.
If you are caught in the inside lane and need to turn right you must go straight and make a U-turn at the next intersection or use an alternative route. Also you may want to take the last exit but due to traffic are forced to enter the circle in the far left-hand lane. In such a case, do not attempt to change lane, go through the circle one more time and exit when you can go straight from the innermost lane.
Therefore the issue is not so much whether a driver is in the “correct” lane in the roundabout, but more the case of, once in the roundabout, how does the driver go about exiting the circle at the required exit. And this is primarily a matter of following the rules of the road regarding the correct use of lanes, signalling, and not changing lanes dangerously. And the rules can be simplified as follows:
Never change lanes in the roundabout. Changing lanes to the left (in order to prepare to exit), causes a lot of accidents. Once you use your left turn signal you are signaling your intention to cause an accident. Go straight make a proper exit, then make a U-turn at the next intersection. If it is not safe, and you are close to your desired exit, circle the centre island again until you can exit the roundabout, go to the next intersection, make a U-turn turn and get into the proper lane before you enter the roundabout.
Never enter the roundabout at speeds greater than 30mph; entering the roundabout at higher speeds causes drivers to swerve into other lanes which often cause sideswiping accidents. Do not distract yourself by using mobile phones while driving, more importantly when approaching an intersection like a roundabout.
Most traffic related fatalities at multi-lane roundabouts are a result of drivers entering the roundabout distracted, driving at high speeds, not wearing the seat belt and sometimes running a red light (at roundabout with traffic lights).