Often times, people drive to a different state and are totally confused by traffic patterns that may be unfamiliar to them. In large metropolitan areas, it's usually complex freeway interchanges. Here in my home state of Maine, it's less complex, but many out of state (and local drivers, too) can't seem to get it. How to drive in a rotary.
What is a rotary?
A rotary is a a large intersection where traffic travels in a circular motion until reaching the desired exit. Rotaries in Maine may be one or two lanes. Other parts of the world may know them as roundabouts or traffic circles.
A one-lane rotary is the simplest. Upon approaching the rotary, slow down and be prepared to stop. Traffic already in the rotary has the right of way. You have a yield sign, but if there is not an acceptable gap, you have to stop and wait for a gap. When you find an acceptable gap, circle counter-clockwise around the center island until you find your exit. Put your right blinker on to indicate your intent to exit.
Two-lane rotaries (such as the two in Augusta) are what most tourists have difficulty with. The same right-of-way rules are in effect. But there are lane rules as well.
Yield to ALL traffic in the rotary in both lanes.
If you want to get off at the first exit, stay in the right-hand, or outside, lane.
If you want to get off at the second exit, you may use either the left-hand (inside) or right-hand (outside) lane.
And if you wish to take any exit after the second exit, stay in the left-hand (inside) lane.
As you enter the rotary and exit the rotary, maintain your position in your lane.
This picture shows a good example of proper lane usage.
If you do not know which exit you want, get in the inside lane and drive around the circle until you find it. If it was the first exit, circle around once and then exit. Do not attempt to go beyond the second exit in the right-hand (outside) lane.
Remember, always look over your shoulder before exiting and watch out, because not everyone follows the rules. Many people are intimidated by rotaries, but after you get used to them, you find they work quite well and keep traffic moving far better than a light.
Remember too, do not drive alongside big rigs, they may need more than one lane to negotiate the rotary. Always be considerate and give truckers ample room.
Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Location: McLean, VA, USA
Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:25 am
Welcome to Fun and Safe driving Melinuxfool!
Thanks a bunch, you psoted pretty comprehensive explanation with a great pic. Nothing to add really. I think I'll move it to the front page, if you don't mind
Actually you reminded me about a funny thing with rotaries in Russia. At the times I was driving there, by the law traffic on circle had to yield to traffic entering it. While traffic was light, it did not really make a difference, but when at the end of last century the number of cars in Moscow increased dramatically and traffic became heavy, those roundabouts became a disaster.
If you think about it, it is pretty much like entering an elevator. Those leaving it have a right of way, because there should be some room there freed up for those entering. Otherwise everybody got stuck. That is exactly what was happening all over the city, and Moscow have quite a few rotaries.
Since traffic laws in Russia are state-wide, and the rest of the country was pretty content with the current rule, Moscow government had go its own way and installed yield signs for those entering circles. It did help a lot, but it also confused out-of-the-city drivers a lot. I think they did not change the law still, but I may be wrong.
Joined: Oct 05, 2008
Location: Albuquerque NM
Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:57 pm
I became used to round-abouts when I lived in Fiji, and also negotiated them often in Tasmania. They work better for driving on the left because then one yields to traffic coming from the right and there is not a new right of way rule to learn.
Traffic patterns in strange cities can be confusing. In September, I took a 5500 mile trip on my motorcycle. In some states, freeway merging and turning off can be on either the left or right, and that is not good. Sometimes it is impossible to know which lane to be in until it is almost too late. In many cities, on surface streets, they have right and left turn lanes but by the time you can read the street sign, it's too late to get into the proper lane without crossing the solid line. In some cities, at night you cannot even read the street signs until you are actually in the intersection. Also, street signs are not in standard locations and that makes it difficult to find them. It's hard enough to deal with traffic without having to look for street signs at the same time.
Building numbers are another problem. Often, especially in business areas, one must drive for blocks before being able to find a building number. It would help if all street signs indicated the number series for the next block. If the vehicle ahead stopped quickly, one could run into it if one were looking for building numbers.
Much could be done to make driving safer if street signs were more visible, especially at night, and if there were street signs well before intersections so that people would easily be able to get into the correct lane. I'm convinced that the number of accidents could be reduced by better street design and better signs.
In the part of the world i live traffic is light and there no problem leaving a roundabouts but the mistake people do is they dont put the light indicator to which side they turn and hence create traffic jam.
I am so happy you posted this, if only everyone in Augusta would take a refresher course on the right way to deal with rotaries! I was once a passenger in a van, going around a rotary in Boston, when a man talking on his cell phone, drove right into the back end of our van. No body was hurt but it sure was a mess. Following the simple rules you have here, would prevent a great many accidents, I am sure.
thanks guys. this is cool because I have tons of driving pet peeves!!! (and it seems some misunderstandings too...its true, you can always learn something new!!) And, I love to blah blah about my opinions, as you both know. I am happy to be here!!
Same here justine! It's only after joining this site, did I realize how many things I needed to know about driving too! As for the 'blah blah' there are plenty of random talk threads around here, so feel free to vent!
The explaination on rotaries is much appreciated. I particularly remember the problems with the rotary around the statue of liberty in Paris has room for about twelve cars to drive alongside each other with no marked lanes what so ever. A big mess...
The idea behind giving the right of-way to the driver's already inside the rotary or roundabout also lays in the fact that the driver sits in the left of the cabin (when driving on the right) so that the front roof pillar (the A pillar) creates a bigger obstruction, which in some cars is big enough to hide a small car in such a situation, unless the driver bends forward slightly.
The diagram at the diverging diamond wikipedia page explains it well enough to me.
After I drove in Ohio several times, I learned there are subtle differences in Ohio laws about traffic lights. I saw an explanation by a former Ohio cop that made little sense to me. What I vaguely remember is people can go through on red in specific circumstances, and a green light might not mean go.
I did a little bit of research and found this simpler explanation:
It's illegal to turn left on red except from one, one-way street to another. When making a left turn on red you need to come to a complete stop and allow all crossing traffic and all pedestrians to go through the intersection before you go.
Left turn on red, one-way streets. There may be other differences, but that is all the patience I had to read about Ohio traffic light law.
That also turned up Ohio's red light cameras, and the debates about where they can be used, fines, eight hours of traffic school, oh joy I'm glad I don't live there.
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