Have you ever entered a roundabout and had the driver in front of you slam on the brakes to let in another driver? You aren’t the only one.
Roundabouts are one of the most confusing intersections to navigate through, especially in terms of when to enter or exit the intersection.
While it’s true that roundabouts can create a safer traffic flow, that can only happen when drivers understand how to use them correctly. If you’re just learning to drive, or if you’ve just moved to Western Australia, here are a few things you should know about roundabout road rules.
What is a roundabout?
A roundabout is an intersection with one or more lanes in which traffic flows in a circular direction around an island. This type of intersection is designed to reduce head-on collisions, slow the speed of traffic, and keep traffic moving in all directions.
Most roundabouts are marked with a sign that looks similar to the symbol for recycling, but even if it isn’t marked, the circular road is easy enough to identify when approaching them.
General roundabout road rules and regulations
There are a few general rules that apply to roundabouts in any situation, like who gives way at a roundabout. These should always be kept in mind while travelling through the intersection.
- First, always keep to the left of the island and travel in a clockwise direction. This keeps the flow of traffic moving continuously.
- Follow the direction of the painted lines for the lane you are in. Most roundabouts are very well marked with where to move within them.
- When entering a roundabout you must give way to vehicles, including bicycles, already in the roundabout. They have the right of way.
- When you’re exiting, be sure to signal to other drivers that you’re leaving. Indicating on a roundabout is sometimes difficult with the short distance, but not doing so can create confusion for other drivers in the intersection and create delays.
While there are several different types of roundabouts, single-lane ones are the most common. With these roundabouts, there are usually four entry and exit points, although you will sometimes see these intersections with three or five exits. These are often the easiest roundabouts to navigate.
When you are about to enter, look both ways for traffic, and enter the roundabout when traffic is clear. If there is no stop sign, you do not have to stop before entering — unless, of course, you are yielding to traffic.
The idea of a roundabout is to keep moving whenever possible. Continue through the intersection until you reach your exit point, signal that you are leaving, and exit the roundabout.
Here’s where it starts to get a bit more confusing.
When you have two or more lanes of traffic going in the same direction, you need to think ahead. As with a single-lane roundabout, be sure to yield to traffic already in the intersection before you enter.
If you are exiting the roundabout less than halfway around, enter the roundabout in the left-most lane. This allows you to exit without having to change lanes in the middle of the roundabout.
If you are exiting the roundabout more than halfway through, you can enter the roundabout in any lane. Before changing lanes, be sure to check your road markings and lines. If you are in a section that allows for lane changes, then indicate your lane change and switch to the lane you need to be in before you exit. Be sure to make the change far enough ahead that you have time to signal your exit from the roundabout.
If there are arrows on the roadway, always obey the direction of the arrows so you do not interrupt the flow of traffic.
Shortly before you reach your exit, indicate you are leaving, and exit the roundabout.
Penalties and fines
As with other traffic infractions, there is a penalty for breaking the rules of the roundabout. Most offences that involve breaking roundabout rules in WA are a $100 fine and two demerit points. Failing to give way at a roundabout, however, will get you a $150 fine and three demerit points.
While that’s not overly expensive as it is in other places, it’s best to follow the rules to avoid collisions, which could cost you much more.
Cyclists and pedestrians
Cyclists follow many of the same rules that vehicles follow while in a roundabout. They must follow the lane change rules and indicate entrance and exit. Cyclists must give way to other cyclists and drivers already in the roundabout. Likewise, drivers must give way to cyclists that are already in the roundabout.
When vehicles are travelling behind cyclists, the driver must keep enough distance between their car and the bicycle to ensure a safe stop if an emergency should arise.
Drivers looking to pass a cyclist must pass to the right, staying a safe distance away from the bicycle. This is the same rule on any road in Western Australia. Since the speed limit in a roundabout is less than 60 km/h, a driver must keep at least 1 m away from the cyclist when passing.
Pedestrians are directed away from the roundabouts when they are crossing the street, but be aware of your surroundings, just in case one would appear.
Learn the regulations
Driving through a roundabout doesn’t have to be confusing.
Driving lessons can help you learn the rules of the road safely. If you, your child, or someone you know is just learning to drive, these driving lessons will get you familiar with how roundabouts work in Western Australia. These lessons will also help you understand the general flow of traffic and the rules and regulations that need to be followed within the state.
For more information on traffic laws, rules of the road, or driving in Western Australia, contact Eclipse Driving School today.
Frequently Asked Questions
First and foremost, if you’re approaching a roundabout, always give way to vehicles already on the roundabout. You can only proceed through a roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic. If the roundabout is clear, you may proceed without having to stop.
Generally, roundabouts are safer than intersections. Drivers need to slow down and think about their next move when driving through a roundabout. This can lead to fewer accidents.
They also improve traffic flow, since cars can move more smoothly through a roundabout than they can at an intersection with stop signs or traffic lights. And, because they’re cheaper to install and maintain than traffic lights, roundabouts provide a cost-effective way to improve safety and traffic flow at intersections.
Yes, you can change lanes in a roundabout as long as it is safe to do so. When changing lanes, be sure to use your turn signal and wait for a gap in traffic before entering the new lane. In multi-lane roundabouts, it’s important to yield to traffic already in the roundabout before entering.
In WA, if you’re going straight through the roundabout, there’s no need to indicate as you enter. You should signal left before you exit the roundabout and remember to always give way to vehicles already on the roundabout.