Yellow Sign with Circle = Roundabout. Lines pointing indicate exits. 3 lines = 3 entrances and exits. Speed 15 mph = SLOW DOWN.
Hey, what’s up with these new circular intersection traffic patterns that have started to pop up around town. They’re called “Roundabouts”. They are not a new concept. Having grown up in New England, I learned to drive at an early age on what they called a “Rotary”. Same thing.
Why a Roundabout? Safety and flow. Generally, a roundabout is safer than a traditional intersection with stop signs and even some stop lights. The City of West Lafayette has a webpage (click here) giving some of the statistics and additional info.
But, they are only safer if you know how to drive in them. I’ve pulled up to a roundabout recently and saw three cars stopped at their entrance not knowing who was supposed to go first. So, whether you’re a long time resident or relocating to west lafayette here’s a quick guide on driving in a roundabout.
Slow Down. First, how do you know that you are approaching a Roundabout? You should see a yellow sign off to the right with a circle and some lines extending out from the circle. Circle = roundabout. Most times, they have an arrow reminding you of the direction of flow = counterclockwise. There are lines sticking out from the circle showing you how many and general location of the entrances and exits to the roundabout. Finally, at the bottom of the sign, there is a yellow caution speed of 15 – 20 mph. So, step one, SLOW DOWN.
Yield When Entering a Roundabout. Goal is to merge successfully at the posted speed. Look to your left, then merge on the roundabout.
YIELD when entering. As you approach the roundabout, most times you will see a yield sign to remind you how to enter the intersection. It’s just like a Yield. The cars inside the roundabout have the right away. So, the goal is to merge successfully without having to stop just like at any other Yield.
Following the flow counterclockwise around the roundabout. You have right away inside and people entering should yield to you. Just beware of people who don’t know the rules or have rusty / dented vehicles! Signal just prior to leaving.
One Way Traffic Flow. As you enter the roundabout, there should be a sign directly ahead of you reminding you of the traffic flow. It is one way going counterclockwise. Just follow the arrow. Once you are in the roundabout, you now have the right away over entering vehicles. (But always beware of heavy trucks not slowing down, rusty vehicles and people not in the know.) All things going correctly, you should never have to stop inside the roundabout. When you are ready to leave on your correct street / exit, blinker away and exit.
Pedestrian crossing rules apply. Watch out for peds!
Special Notes. Watch out for pedestrians. All rules still apply to cross walks. If an emergency vehicle approaches the roundabout intersection while you are in the roundabout, don’t stop. Continue to your exit and then pull over just like you would in any intersection.
Yeager and 231 has a new 2 lane roundabout. Watch the signs and street markings to pick the right lane to enter. You should not have to change lanes to exit.
Now for Roundabout 202. Two lane roundabouts. The main difference is that you need to pay attention to signs and markings on the street prior to the roundabout to determine which lane you should be in prior to entering the intersection. The new roundabout intersection at Yeager Rd and SR 231 is such an animal. For example, as you head north on 231 and come up to the roundabout, you need to be in the left lane to continue around and then exit on 231 going north. Again going north on 231 at Yeager, you need to be in the right lane (or left lane) to exit to Yeager. The right lane must exit right at this intersection. Anyway, just slow down, read the signs and merge. Generally, you should not have to change lanes to exit.
Congratulations! You’ve graduated Roundabouts 101. Please see the West Lafayette link above for more detailed info. Slow down, merge confidently and exit when you need to. You’re done! Pass it along. Cheers! Eric.