- Single-lane roundabouts
- Mini roundabouts
- Multi-lane roundabouts
- Turbo roundabouts
- Access-controlled roundabouts
- Magic roundabouts
- Tram roundabouts
- Roundabout interchanges
- Tips for all roundabouts
- Frequently asked questions
In the UK, we have a higher proportion of roundabouts in our road network than in any other country in the world. This is because roundabouts are proven to be safer than traditional intersections, as they reduce the number of potential collision points.
However, navigating roundabouts can still be challenging, especially for those who are not familiar with the different types of roundabouts commonly found on our roads.
That’s why we’ve created this handy guide to introduce you to the various types of roundabouts. We’ll also provide you with helpful tips on how to approach each type, ensuring that you can confidently navigate these junctions like a seasoned driver.
So, let’s delve into the world of roundabouts and equip you with the knowledge and skills to tackle them effortlessly and safely.
Single-lane roundabouts are a common sight on our local roads. These roundabouts are characterised by a single lane that encircles a central island, and they are typically found at intersections where two or more roads meet. Unlike traffic lights, single-lane roundabouts rely on clear signage to guide drivers.
Approaching a single-lane roundabout requires following the mirrors-signal-manoeuvre (MSM) routine. It’s important to make an early decision on which exit you intend to take and signal accordingly. If you’re planning to take the first exit on the left, signal left as you approach the roundabout. For right turns or going full-circle, signal right.
When you reach the give way line at the roundabout, wait for traffic approaching from the right and give them priority. Take note of other vehicles already on the roundabout and look ahead before moving off to ensure that the traffic in front of you has started to move as well. As you approach your exit, signal left after passing the exit just before yours.
By following these guidelines, you can navigate single-lane roundabouts safely and smoothly, ensuring a confident driving experience. Remember to always remain vigilant and observe the actions of other road users for added safety.
Mini-roundabouts, although smaller in size, operate in a similar manner to regular single-lane roundabouts. The main difference is that instead of a physical central island, mini roundabouts are marked by road markings. It’s essential to understand that despite the absence of a physical island, you must still navigate around the central markings as you would on a traditional roundabout.
Due to their smaller size, manoeuvring on a mini roundabout requires extra attention. Signalling becomes crucial, as you have less time to indicate your intentions to other drivers. It is important to be clear and timely with your signals to ensure smooth traffic flow. It’s worth noting that performing a U-turn at a mini roundabout is discouraged according to the Highway Code.
Did you know? The defining characteristic of a mini roundabout is not its size, but the absence of a physical central island. If a roundabout has any type of physical street furniture at its centre, it is not considered a mini roundabout. A smaller roundabout with physical street furniture is simply referred to as a “small roundabout.”
By familiarising yourself with the rules and characteristics of mini roundabouts, you can navigate these junctions with confidence and ensure the safety of yourself and other road users. Stay vigilant, communicate your intentions clearly, and adapt your driving to the unique challenges posed by mini-roundabouts.
Multi-lane roundabouts can vary in size and complexity, but they all have one thing in common: they feature more than one lane for drivers to choose from when navigating the roundabout.
Approaching a multi-lane roundabout requires similar procedures as a single-lane roundabout. You should follow the MSM routine, decide your desired exit, and adjust your speed and position accordingly. However, the key difference is that you need to select the appropriate lane before entering the roundabout.
If you plan to take the first exit to your left, approach the roundabout in the left-hand lane and signal left. Stay in the left lane while on the roundabout and continue signalling left to indicate your intention to exit.
For drivers intending to take an exit to the right, approach the roundabout in the right-hand lane and signal right. Maintain your position in the right lane while on the roundabout.
It’s important to only change lanes when you are preparing to exit the roundabout. Once you have passed the exit just before your desired one, signal left to indicate your departure.
When it comes to intermediate exits, choose the appropriate lane when approaching the roundabout. In most cases, you won’t need to signal at this point. Stay in your chosen lane until you need to change your position to exit the roundabout. Signal left after passing the exit immediately before your intended one.
Navigating multi-lane roundabouts can be challenging, but by understanding lane selection, appropriate signalling, and careful positioning, you can safely and confidently navigate these complex junctions. Remember to remain aware of other road users and always follow the rules of the road.
Turbo roundabouts are a relatively new type of roundabout that feature two lanes and require drivers to choose their intended direction upon approach. Unlike standard roundabouts, once you choose your path on a turbo roundabout, you are locked into that choice.
On a turbo roundabout, you will typically see one lane designated for drivers taking the first exit to the left, and another lane for drivers taking all exits further to the right. This configuration creates a spiral effect around the central island, which often has an unusual shape.
While turbo roundabouts are still relatively rare in the UK, they are more common in the Netherlands, where various designs, including those with lane dividers to prevent lane switching, can be found.
The introduction of turbo roundabouts has sparked some controversy. Certain designs restrict U-turns, and the presence of lane-dividing furniture can pose challenges for larger vehicles. However, statistics have shown a significant decrease in accidents on turbo roundabouts compared to standard multi-lane designs.
As the use of turbo roundabouts continues to evolve, time will tell if they become more widely adopted in the UK. In the meantime, when you encounter a turbo roundabout, remember to choose your lane in advance and signal when you are ready to exit the roundabout.
While roundabouts are typically known for their lack of traffic lights, there are instances where traffic lights are installed at the entrances of a roundabout to manage traffic flow more effectively. These roundabouts are referred to as access-controlled roundabouts.
Unlike traditional roundabouts, the usual rules of entering a roundabout don’t apply at access-controlled roundabouts. If the traffic light at the entrance is green, you have the right of way and can proceed onto the roundabout. Once on the roundabout, you should follow the standard rules that apply to single- or multi-lane roundabouts, depending on the design of the specific roundabout.
It’s important to be aware of the presence of traffic lights at access-controlled roundabouts and to always observe and adhere to the signals. This ensures a smooth and safe flow of traffic within the roundabout and minimises the risk of collisions.
When approaching an access-controlled roundabout, pay close attention to the traffic lights and follow the signals accordingly. Once on the roundabout, continue to drive in your chosen lane and yield to vehicles already on the roundabout when necessary. Signal your intentions clearly and in advance to communicate with other road users.
By understanding the specific rules and signals at access-controlled roundabouts, you can navigate these junctions with confidence and contribute to a safer driving experience for everyone.
One of the most unique and intriguing roundabout designs found in the UK is the magic roundabout. While not commonly seen on the roads, they are known for their distinct appearance and reputation in the areas where they are located.
Swindon, for example, is a notable location with multiple magic roundabouts, and there are others scattered across southern England. Despite their intimidating reputation, these roundabouts are actually quite safe, primarily due to the low speeds at which drivers navigate them, reducing the risk of severe collisions.
Approaching a magic roundabout requires a clear understanding of its layout. It is composed of a series of interconnected mini-roundabouts, each requiring separate navigation.
As you approach each mini-roundabout, remember to give way to vehicles already on it and indicate your intended exit when it is time to leave. It’s important to stay calm and composed when approaching a magic roundabout—remember, you are familiar with the basic principles of roundabout navigation.
By treating each mini roundabout within the magic roundabout as an individual entity and following the standard rules of giving way and signalling, you can confidently navigate these unique junctions. Remember, while they may appear daunting, magic roundabouts can be safely traversed with the right knowledge and approach.
Tram roundabouts are a unique variation of the traditional roundabout design that incorporates tram tracks crossing through the centre of the junction. While not commonly found across the UK, a few notable examples exist, such as the one in Wolverhampton.
Another similar configuration can be observed in New Addington, located in south London, where tram tracks intersect with the roundabout. In Sheffield, the Supertram system passes overhead, showcasing yet another innovative integration of trams and roundabouts.
The presence of tram tracks adds an additional element of complexity to these roundabouts, requiring drivers to be aware of the tram movements and follow specific rules for interacting with trams. It is essential to exercise caution when approaching and navigating tram roundabouts to ensure the safety of both motorists and tram passengers.
When driving near tram tracks within a roundabout, it is important to be mindful of tram signals and yield the right of way to trams when necessary. Additionally, be aware that trams have limited manoeuvrability and may require more time to stop or change lanes.
It is advisable to maintain a safe distance from trams and avoid any sudden or unpredictable movements that could jeopardise the safety of everyone on the road.
While encountering tram roundabouts may be relatively rare, understanding the unique challenges they pose and adapting your driving accordingly will contribute to a safer and more efficient interaction with trams within these specialised junctions.
Always exercise caution, adhere to tram-specific rules and regulations, and prioritise the safety of all road users when navigating tram roundabouts.
Contrary to popular belief, roundabouts and motorways can indeed coexist in certain areas of the UK, giving rise to roundabout interchanges. These unique junctions often feature a stacked configuration, where one of the roadways is grade separated, either passing over or under the roundabout.
In more complex cases, you may encounter a three-level stacked roundabout, where the roundabout itself, along with two main roadways, are situated on separate levels.
Roundabout interchanges represent a sophisticated solution to managing traffic flow and ensuring efficient connectivity between motorways and local road networks. They provide a seamless transition for drivers navigating between different roadways, enhancing safety and minimizing congestion.
When approaching a roundabout interchange, it is essential to follow the appropriate lane markings and signage to ensure you take the correct exit. Pay close attention to directional signs and road markings that indicate the appropriate lane for your desired destination.
Proper signalling is crucial when changing lanes within the interchange, as it allows other road users to anticipate your movements and enhances overall traffic flow.
Due to the complex nature of roundabout interchanges, it is advisable to approach them with caution and maintain an appropriate speed. Be aware of the presence of other vehicles, particularly those merging or exiting from different levels of the interchange.
Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and anticipating lane changes will contribute to smoother and safer navigation through these unique junctions.
Roundabout interchanges may be less common than traditional roundabouts, but they play a vital role in facilitating efficient movement between motorways and local roads. By familiarising yourself with the specific characteristics and navigation requirements of these interchanges, you can confidently navigate these complex junctions and enjoy a seamless driving experience.
Tips for all roundabouts
Looking for a quick refresher on how to navigate roundabouts? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
On your approach
- Use the MSM (Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre) routine.
- Decide on your desired exit as early as possible.
- Give a clear and timely signal to indicate your intentions.
- Ensure your signal aligns with the correct position on the roundabout.
- Get into the appropriate lane based on your intended exit.
- Adjust your speed and position to match the flow of traffic.
- Stay aware of the speed and positioning of other road users.
When you reach the roundabout
- Give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise by signs, markings, or traffic lights.
- Check if you can enter the roundabout without giving way, but always look to your right before merging.
- Be vigilant of other road users on the roundabout, as they may not always signal correctly.
- Look ahead before moving off to ensure the traffic in front of you has started moving.
When taking the first left
- Signal left before approaching the roundabout.
- Approach in the left-hand lane.
- Keep to the left while on the roundabout.
- Continue signalling left until you exit.
When taking an exit to the right
- Signal right before approaching the roundabout.
- Approach in the right-hand lane.
- Keep to the right while on the roundabout.
- Change lanes when necessary to reach your desired exit.
- Signal left after passing the exit just before the one you intend to take.
When taking an intermediate exit
- You generally do not need to signal when taking an intermediate exit.
- Approach in the lane that best suits your exit.
- Stay in that lane until you need to change course.
- Change lanes when required to reach your exit.
- Signal left after passing the exit just before your intended one.
Be aware of
- Pedestrians using designated crossings.
- Traffic crossing in front of you, especially at pedestrian crossings.
- Vehicles that may straddle lanes or be positioned incorrectly.
- Motorcyclists, cyclists, and horse riders who share the road.
- Longer vehicles that may require extra space on the roundabout.
Frequently asked questions
The lane you should be in at a roundabout depends on the exit you intend to take:
If you’re taking the first exit on the left, approach the roundabout in the left lane and signal left. Stay in the left lane while on the roundabout and continue signalling left as you exit.
If you’re taking an exit to the right or going full circle around the roundabout, approach in the right-hand lane and signal right. Keep to the right lane while on the roundabout.
For intermediate exits, select the appropriate lane on approach and remain in that lane until you need to exit. You don’t need to signal on approach, but signal left after passing the exit just before yours.
Remember to always check for road markings and signs to guide you to the correct lane, and be aware of other road users while changing lanes.
When going straight ahead at a roundabout, you should not signal as you approach the roundabout. It is the default direction at a roundabout, so signalling is not necessary. However, you should approach in the left-hand lane unless road markings indicate otherwise.
Once you have passed the exit just before the one you intend to take, signal left to indicate your intention to exit. This signal informs other drivers that you are leaving the roundabout at the upcoming exit.
At a roundabout, the general rule is that traffic approaching from your right has the right of way. If you are approaching the roundabout from the left, you must wait at the give way line and give priority to the traffic already on the roundabout, which is coming from your right.
You should only proceed when it is safe and there is a sufficient gap in the traffic to enter the roundabout. Always be cautious and yield to other vehicles to ensure a smooth and safe flow of traffic.