Hands up if you were taught to give way to your left on a roundabout, or if you were told to give way to your right. Now, put them up if you were told to indicate when leaving a roundabout, even if you’re travelling straight through. And finally, and just to really confuse matters, who was told you definitely don’t need to indicate unless you’re turning left or right?
Right, so that’s just about everyone, then? Well, we’ve got some bad news for you: everything we thought we knew about how to use a roundabout is wrong.
Born of the considerably older circle junctions, the modern roundabout exploded in popularity across the UK in the 1960s, because they not only allowed traffic to merge without coming to a complete stop, but because they lowered the severity of any accidents that might occur by significantly reducing the speed of a collision, and by making head-on collisions almost impossible.
Over the next 50-odd-years, they popped up everywhere (France alone has somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000), but ask even the most confident driver to explain the complex web of rules that govern their use, and you’ll be met with the blank and nervous stare of someone who has no idea what they’re talking about, but is about to start pretending.
And that’s partly because we’ve been handed down dodgy advice, and partly because roundabout rules vary from state to state. To further muddy the murky waters of understanding, you’ve got dual-lane, multi-lane (be they three-lane or four-lane) and the so-rare-it’s-almost-mythical double roundabout (there’s one planned for Adelaide) to navigate, too.
So it’s time to forget what you think you know about how to use a roundabout, and consider the below your official guide to the Australian rules.
Australia-wide roundabout rules
Contrary to popular belief (or at least what our dads always told us), the simple rule of right-of-way on a roundabout doesn’t favour traffic to the left or to the right. Instead, every state dictates that anyone entering a roundabout has to give way to any vehicle that is already on it, regardless of their position.
Turning left or right
If you’re using a multi-lane roundabout and you want to turn left, approach in the left-side lane and indicate appropriately. If you want to turn right, do the exact opposite. Using a single-lane roundabout is no different, except it all happens from the same lane.
Making a U-turn
On a multi-lane roundabout, stay in the right-hand lane and indicate right, keeping your indicator on until you reach your exit. The rules are the same on a single-lane roundabout, but your lane selection is made for you.
Driving straight ahead
There is no need to indicate as you approach the roundabout, but you should follow the road markings or street signs to ensure you’re in the correct lane. Whether or not you have to indicate when you exit the roundabout depends on which state you live in.