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How do I drive a roundabout?

December 17, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Car accident lawyer gives 6 tips to drive a roundabout, and discusses whether roundabouts cause or prevent car accidents

December 16, 2015: Please visit our new Roundabout Resource Center.

There are least 20 roundabouts in Southeast Michigan, with many more proposed. As a car accident lawyer, I often hear my clients and my friends complain about how complicated these new roundabouts are.

The truth is, roundabouts are actually easier to navigate than traditional intersections with one important caveat: you have to know the proper way to drive a roundabout. Roundabout driving is something that many drivers, and especially elderly drivers, are unfamiliar with.

What is a roundabout?

A roundabout is a circular intersection design. Some people use the term “roundabouts” and “traffic circles” interchangeably, but they are different: Roundabouts are usually smaller than traffic circles. Roundabouts work on one simple principle: drivers must yield the right of way to vehicles already in the roundabout before entering.

According to MDOT, when selected and designed correctly, roundabouts can handle a high volume of traffic, including commercial trucks and large emergency vehicles. They cost less than traditional intersections and they improve congestion and increase traffic flow.

Are roundabouts safe?

Although I’ve had my share of crashes that occurred in roundabouts as a car accident lawyer, I believe that roundabouts are very safe — but only when people know how to drive them properly (See the paragraph below for more information on how to drive in roundabouts).

And studies show that roundabouts can prevent car accidents.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IISH) and SEMCOG, roundabouts have been shown to reduce car accidents. In a 2001 report from IIHS, all crashes in roundabout conversions of 23 U.S. Intersections were reduced by 39 percent. Serious injury crashes were reduced by 76 percent and serious injury/fatal crashes were reduced by 89 percent.

How to drive a roundabout

Below are a few tips on how to drive a roundabout from MDOT. Remember, traffic in roundabouts always moves counterclockwise.

1. Slow down as you approach the roundabout.

2. Use the guide signs and lane markers to choose your appropriate lane for your destination.

3. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists as you approach the crosswalk.

4. Slow down as you approach the yield sign and dashed yield line. Look to the left to see if other
vehicles are traveling within the roundabout.

5. Once there is an adequate gap in traffic, enter the roundabout. Do not stop or change lanes.

6. As you approach your destination, signal your exit.

Another important point to keep in mind is to get out of roundabout quickly when an emergency vehicle approaches.

Let our lawyers know what you think of roundabouts by my making a comment below. As always, drive safe!

Steve Gursten is one of the nation’s top car accident lawyers. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve has received the highest verdict in the state for a car accident or truck accident victim in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He frequently blogs about safe driving and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourselves:

Michigan safe driving tips

10 things to know if you’ve been injured in a Michigan car accident

Finding a Michigan car accident lawyer

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for help from a car accident lawyer.

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