I Pit Idiot Roundabout Drivers

The city in which I live has begun to install one to two lane roundabouts in place of four way stops here. There is one each way on the main street outside my subdivision, making them impossible to avoid. These both happen to be of the two lane variety. It’s a wonderful idea, if people could only use them correctly.

Despite ample signage that indicates that one must yield to vehicles in the roundabout, and that indicates the left lane is for those going straight or left, and the right lane for those going straight or right, no one knows how to effing use the things without wrecking!

I see people pulled over who have wrecked once every few days, and get into near misses myself nearly every single day. I just don’t understand it, to the point of wondering if I am the one driving wrongly. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems this is how it should work:

  1. Get into the proper lane as you are approaching the roundabout, just as if it were still a four way stop. You wouldn’t try to turn left from the right lane at a four way stop, would you? Trying to change lanes INSIDE these small roundabouts is rather idiotic.

  2. Don’t enter the roundabout if there is a car in EITHER lane, as either lane is allowed to exit the roundabout just to the right of you. (This causes most of my near misses, when I am in the inside lane going straight, per the signage as well as the dotted lines, and someone enters the roundabout into the outside lane, cutting me off.)

I understand that larger roundabouts have rules about traveling on the inside lanes and exiting from the outside lanes, but these have arrows on the street that indicate that one can go straight from either lane.

For now, I’m going to only go straight from the right lane even though that will require extra lane changes, and put my daughter’s child seat behind me, even though I can’t see or reach her there, as most of the wrecks are into the passenger rear quarter panel. It seems a near certainty that someone WILL wreck into me eventually.

I know this rant seems lame because of the lack of vitriol and swearing, but please rest assured that I am really quite angry. How’s this for an ending:

A hearty “fuck you” to the pick-up who tried to pass me on the right and then turn left in the roundabout yesterday as I was going straight, nearly creaming my car right where my daughter was sitting, and then laying on his horn as if I were in the wrong.

Roundabouts belong in Europe. Here in America, a four-way stop is fine.

Seriously, though, I don’t really see the need to install roundabouts. I can see why, in theory, they make sense. But since hardly anyone is America is accustomed to them, they seem more trouble than they are worth. If someone isn’t going to use an efficient system in an efficient way, it doesn’t make sense to install it.

It doesn’t matter which one it is, a four way or a round about. The same people who can’t navigate a four way are the same ones that figure out what to do at a round about. Perhaps public transportation is the answer. Or frontal lobotomies.

People figure them out in a few months and then they work just fine. I know of one major intersection near here where they have a figure 8 model (two circles back to back), and it works. It was hell for a while, though.

My problem with them is what they do to the inside of the circles. Some city official sees an empty dirt circle and decides that it must be made to look pretty! So they put in a big mound of dirt in the middle and trees and plantings all around, making it impossible to see any traffic until they round the corner 30 feet away.

I think it is a rule in Britain that the only thing that can go in the middle of a traffic circle is an obelisk.

Not for the faint of heart - Swindon’s Magic Roundabout.

I’m not sure I know what you mean by going “straight”.

Do you mean that you entered the roundabout going north on Main St. (or whatever) and you’ll leave it still going north on Main St.? If that’s what you meant, it shouldn’t really matter. When other drivers see you in the roundabout, and try to predict what you’re going to do, they can hardly all be expected to remember where you entered the roundabout (and may not have even seen you).

I was in a two-lane roundabout several years ago (they call them “rotaries” here). It was 1:00 a.m. There was one other car in sight, right behind me. I wanted to make a U-turn, and head back the way I came. I entered the rotary. No point in getting to the inside lane (I use my turn signals and check my blind spot and everything). The car behind me moves to the inside lane, pulls alongside me, and then tries to leave the rotary at the next exit. She forced me to take a turn-off I didn’t want to, pulled up next to me at the next light and started yelling.

How is a roundabout better than a 4-way stop? Sure, it may be more efficient if every last person who enters it is a highly competant driver with years of experience, but a 4-way stop usually works if everybody entering it is one grade level above chimpanzee, and is far more forgiving of mistakes.

There are reasons for one–I can think of one installed because five existing streets converged on one point, but it’s generally a bloody stupid idea, if you ask me, and towns mostly change perfectly serviceable intersections to roundabouts because the town parents are pretentious morons. Therefore, I’m not surprised they put some in Modesto, CA.

Roundabouts reduce serious accidents by upto 87% (cite) so I’d say that they’re a pretty good investment.

Yes, I meant that, and the rules posted say one may do this from either lane. The other drivers need not know where I came in, nor should they try and predict what I will do. If I am in the roundabout and near them, they should wait. The big problem is happening when I am in the inside lane and the other drivers think that means they can enter into the outside lane, cutting me off or coming into my rear quarter panel as I try to exit.

If the rules worked the same as they do on these, you were both wrong. She shouldn’t have changed lanes and/or attempted to pass in the roundabout, but technically she was allowed to exit from the inside, but you were NOT allowed to go left (or U) from the right lane.

I’m not surprised either. I do not pretend to like it here.

This was at the first exit from the rotary. You said it’s okay to go straight from the right lane. She drove as if I had to turn right and make room for her. If not for asshattery behind the wheel of a station wagon, I’d have stayed in the rotary all the way around, but she didn’t know that.

The system you’re describing would be fine if everybody stayed in perfect lockstep around the rotary. Two cars enter, side by side, and they know not to cross paths. Maybe the rotaries are smaller there, and really do work that way. The ones here aren’t like that. I’ve seen rotaries that span freeways, with six roads in and out. Cars are going different speeds. You have a little acceleration lane from the yield sign, so you time your entry to match the opening in traffic. Where I get off the rotary, and whether I have to take the next turn, shouldn’t depend on where I got on.

For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen a sign here saying which lanes have to do what in a rotary. (And 75% of the drivers would ignore that, anyway.) People treat them as two lanes, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a line painted down the middle.

Hah, I drove through that the other day. It’s daunting to look at or think about, but when you’re actually on it, it makes a bizarre kind of sense.

Roundabouts are superb for low density traffic - they slow, but do not stop, the flow. They also give a totally unambiguous precedence of right-of-way. At high levels of traffic, however, they fail, and need traffic lights on them. That said, I’d rather have a roundabout with rush hour-only lights on them than a four-way stop, or regular traffic lights.

I love roundabouts. It just takes time for people to get accustomed to them. I love that roundabout linked, too.

To Robot Arm: Oh! My mistake. She was in the wrong then for making a (what would have been, if a 4 way stop) right turn from the left lane.

Here we do have lines painted down the middle, as well as dashed lines to indicate when the inside lane is permitted to cross the outside one. Preceding the roundabout, painted on the road is a diagram indicating what is allowed from the lane. One would think it is overkill, but quite apparently not.

I would be afraid of your six lane ones, especially in winter if there is snow or ice (I’ve never driven on either).

Even more infuriating are the morons who think they have to slam on the brakes when approaching a roundabout. Apparently, looking to the side whilst approaching and carrying straight on if the lane is clear is beyond them. Halfwits doing 30mph below the speed limit on a motorway roundabout are a good source of fun, too.

I agree, although that being said, there was a large elongated roundabout near me (Thorton Heath Pond, for anyone familiar with S. London) that was a perfectly functional roundabout for god knows how many years, and then Croydon council decided to turn it into traffic light hell… and now it’s almost always jammed a rush hour. Two sets of traffic lights within 5 metres doesn’t help either.

For those not from New England, rotary = roundabout. If you’re not used to driving in them, they can be daunting. I like them, though, especially when needing to turn left at a busy intersection.

I’ve driven that several times while in England.

Using the two terms interchangeably leads to confusion such as:

Whatever you call it, something that size ain’t a roundabout, and doesn’t function in the same way.

Proper signalling in a roundabout can make it perfectly clear what you’re doing, indiciating if you’re taking the next exit.

Read “4-way stop” for "roundabout, and “roundabout” for “4-way stop”, and your post could have been written here in Sydney. We have roundabouts everywhere, and 4-way stops are rare. They’re also very dangerous here because NOBODY knows how to use the things, whereas even the more knuckle-dragging of our driving population can use a roundabout.

It’s down to what you’re used to, and that’s why the “roundabouts belong in Europe” argument makes no sense: I live in a country where the things only started popping up in the last twenty years. It was freaky at first, and there are still elderly drivers who refuse to learn and will drive miles out of their way to avoid one (though that must be getting harder to do now), but slowly the complaining voices have died down as people realise, “Hey, these things are actually pretty good!”

Roundabouts keep the traffic flowing, and they make it possible for folks exiting a minor street to get onto a busy one without waiting half a day for a gap (or worse, getting impatient and gunning for a too-small gap).

I’ve been through the growing pains of a country that previously had none of these things, and now has them everywhere, and I’ve done so as a driver, so I’ve seen both sides to this. Conclusion: I like roundabouts.

Having driven in England, I’m a huge fan of roundabouts - they work!

Pasadena, California has recently installed roundabout-like islands in the middle of some intersections - but they left the 4-way stop signs in place. The result is just stupid - it’s a worst-of-both-worlds compromise, I think.

Here is an aerial photo of the intersection of Glenarm Street and Los Robles Avenue. That thing in the middle of the intersection is an island.

One approaches the intersection, stops, and proceeds according to the usual four-way-stop rules - going counter-clockwise around the island. Traffic flow is essentially unaffected, except that it takes longer to clear the intersection now than it did before, because there’s a chicane in the middle of it.

That does look remarkably stupid. Possibly it’s someone who’s trying to get roundabouts installed, and doing so by the backdoor by putting silly obstacles like this in the way, knowing that whoever has to clear up the mess in a few years will find it easier to do so by removing stop signs than by digging up the island.