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Roundabouts are common in Europe and other countries around the world, but they are relatively new in many parts of the United States. With their various advantages, such as car safety and meeting a wide range of traffic conditions, roundabouts will likely become a more common sight in the coming years. However, due to the newness factor and chaotic nature, many people are scared to drive on roundabouts. To help alleviate your roundabout fears and anxieties, we offer some tips.

What is a roundabout?

Overhead view of cars driving on a roundabout, highlighting advantages and tips for people that are scared of them
Roundabout | Ádám Berkecz via Unsplash

Much of the fear of roundabouts is from people’s lack of familiarity and experience with them. And like many things in life, understanding roundabouts is half the battle for alleviating your fears. This includes understanding what a roundabout is — and the advantages it has over a traditional intersection. 

A roundabout is a circular-shaped intersection in which traffic moves in a counterclockwise direction. Modern roundabouts have no stop signs or traffic signals. Instead, a car yields at the entry point before merging into traffic. After entering a roundabout, a driver continues around the circular road and then exits at their intended street and continues to their destination.

What are the advantages of a roundabout compared to a traditional intersection?

SUVs driving on a roundabout, highlighting advantages and tips for people that fear them
Roundabout | Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The advantages and benefits of roundabouts compared to traditional intersections, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, include:

  • Reduces crashes that result in injury and death
  • Act as a traffic calming measure by reducing the speed of vehicles
  • Reduces conflict points on roads
  • Improves operational performance, with the ability to increase traffic capacity by as much as 50% compared to traditional intersections
  • Due to their versatile design, shape, and size, roundabouts can meet the needs of a wide variety of traffic conditions.

Tips for driving on a roundabout to reduce your fears

Another reason why people are afraid of roundabouts is they tend to be chaotic. So many things appear to be happening all at once. To address this, be aware of your surroundings. Scan the roundabout for traffic, view the lane markings, and use your mirrors and driving assistance features as needed. 

Next, decide which lane you want to enter, and then signal accordingly. Now, it’s time to enter the roundabout. Many drivers make the mistake of doing either of the two extremes for roundabout entry. Some drivers slam the accelerator and gun it into the roundabout. Others are like deer in the headlights. They freeze and then lumber into the roundabout too slowly.

However, the middle way is best. When you see the opportunity with a gap between cars, enter the roundabout at a safe speed and merge into traffic. Also, follow the flow of traffic and never stop in the middle of a roundabout. 

Additionally, if possible, it’s best to avoid driving next to large and oversized vehicles, such as semi-trucks, as detailed by DriveSafe Online. Due to the circular road, it can be difficult for large vehicles to drive on a roundabout without entering an adjacent lane. Give large vehicles plenty of space to safely enter, exit, and drive around the circular road.

Avoid changing lanes and continue on the roundabout at a safe speed. When you see your intended street, use your turn signal, carefully exit the roundabout, and drive to your destination.

If you’re scared to drive on roundabouts, then we encourage you to follow these tips. These fears probably won’t go away overnight. However, with continued familiarity and experience of driving on roundabouts, over time, your fears and anxieties will likely dissipate. 

Also, who knows? Perhaps, once you gain driving confidence and realize the advantages, you’ll become a lover of roundabouts.