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Tips for Navigating the Roundabout

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Roundabouts have been part of the Aussie road system for decades. Their popularity exploded when drivers realised they no longer had to come to a complete stop like at a stop sign.

The main goal of the roundabout is to slow traffic down. This minimises the odds of having a crash and significantly reduces the impact when there is. The problem is that the majority of drivers have their own conception of the rules that apply to driving through a roundabout.

Driving through a roundabout literally has you going in circles! When everyone on the road has different ideas about who has the right of way and which lane to occupy, it’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents than there are.

Traffic Roundabout Sign road and signs.

Forget what you thought you knew about navigating roundabouts and learn what you’re really supposed to do.

  1. When you approach the roundabout, take note of which vehicles are already there. They have the right of way.
  2. Slow down as you enter and come to a stop if necessary.
  3. If you plan to go straight ahead, don’t signal while entering. Do signal as you exit.
  4. If the roundabout has multiple lanes, stay in the same lane from the time you approach until you exit.
  5. For left turns, approach the roundabout in the left lane with your left signal going.
  6. For right turns, approach the roundabout in the right lane with your right signal going. Signal left before exiting into the right lane.
  7. To make a U-turn, approach the roundabout in the right lane and signal right. Signal left before exiting into the right lane.
  8. When exiting the roundabout, you should nearly always signal left.

Exceptions to the Rule

The “Halfway Around” rule is observed in Canberra, requiring drivers who leave the roundabout before reaching the halfway point to enter the left lane while signalling left. Those planning to exit the roundabout after the halfway point should enter the right lane. If you plan to drive straight through, don’t signal in either direction.

Other differences apply to the rules in various areas. In Queensland, you must signal when leaving even if travelling straight through. The same is true in Northern Territory. In Tasmania, the road lines dictate when to give way or stop. A dotted line means to give way, and a solid line means to come to a complete stop.

The best tip for navigating the roundabout is to learn all of the related road signs and road markings. That way, you always know what to do in any area of the country where you drive.