Roundabouts

Roundabout PictureThis Roundabout (Turning Circle) is actually in the United States. See the road markings where you would normally approach driving on the right hand side of the road. You would negotiate this roundabout in a counter-clockwise direction. Essentially the rules of the use of a roundabout, whereby you are driving on the left are simply reversed. Still, lets not presume it's as easy as pie. Some Irish people still cannot negotiate roundabouts correctly.

Please be aware that each local authority has the ability and has excercised their rights to change the road positioning. This may also occur when the roundabout/road direction becomes complicated and demands that the rules change. Mayo County Council is a good example of using a strange approach to the original idea of roundabouts.

Foreword 

When dealing with individual roundabouts, it is always important to position where road markings indicate. It is also useful to use the clock method to determine which way to signal or indicate. The clock method is based on the idea that you are always approaching from the 6 o'clock position, which would make the exit to your left 9 o'clock, the road directly in front of you 12 o'clock and the road leading to your right 3 o'clock. If there are more than four exits on the roundabout, they would adopt a number in relation to your 6 o'clock approach position.

In the examples below, you should assume that there are two lanes on the entry to the roundabout and two lanes on the exit.

Taking the road leading to the left (1st exit)

Left Turn

The most straightforward exit to take is the one leading to the left (1st exit). You would normally apply your left indicator and provided road marking allow, position in the left hand lane as you approach. Maintain your left indicator signal throughout the roundabout and only cancel it when you exit.

Following the road ahead (2nd exit)

Straight On 

Following the road ahead (2nd exit) tends to cause a little more confusion. This in itself opens a can of worms as there are motoring schools showing people the wrong ways to navigate roundabouts.The normal procedurefor taking this exit is to have no signal as you approach the roundabout. You would usually takethe left hand lane (providing road markings allow) and keep in this lane as you negotiate the roundabout. When you are level with the centre point of the 1st exit, you would signal to the left to indicate your intention to leave the roundabout.

The other option when following the road ahead is to take the right hand lane on approach. Your signals would be the same as above (no signal on approach, and signal left when you are leaving) but you would keep in the right hand lane throughout the roundabout. There are certain occasions when it may be useful to select this lane, for example, if there is slower traffic in the left hand lane and you wish to make better progress, or if there was an obstruction in the left hand lane after the roundabout. Selecting the right hand lane would allow you to adopt an early passing position for the obstruction. Another occasion when you could consider taking the right hand lane is if you are making a right hand turn shortly after the roundabout, as this would get you into position early for your turn.

Where a roundabout goes from two lanes on approach to one lane on the exit, it is worth considering which side of the road actually narrows. If the road narrows on the left hand side, for example by the kerb cutting in, then it may be better to select the right hand lane as this will allow you to follow a smoother/straighter line without having to change lanes. If on the other hand, the road narrows from the right, for example because of the position of a traffic island, then it may be more advantageous to select the left hand lane.

Taking the road leading to the right (3rd exit)

Right Turn 3rd Exit 

When taking the road leading to the right (3rd exit), you would normally approach in the right hand lane unless road markings indicated otherwise. You would signal to the right on approach and maintain this signal until you get level with the centre point of the 2nd exit, when you would change to a left signal to indicate your intention to leave the roundabout. Where conditions allow and it is safe to do so, you should leave by the left hand lane as you exit the roundabout. It is very important however to stress that you should give way to traffic already in the left hand lane and if it is not safe to change lanes, you should remain in the right and lane as you exit. Many crashes occur because drivers assume they must exit by the left hand lane at all costs.

Leaving by the right hand lane may also be advantageous where the left lane is blocked after the roundabout, where you are turning right a short distance ahead or where safe progress can be made by remaining in this position.

Going all the way around to face the opposite way (4th exit)

Going all the way around the roundabout to come back from the opposite direction (4th exit) is just an extension of taking the road leading to the right (3rd exit).

You would normally approach the roundabout in the right hand lane signaling to the right. You would maintain your signal and road position until you get level with the centre point of the 3rd exit, where you would change your signal to the left indicator and leave by the left hand lane if conditions allow.

Multi exit Roundabouts

Applying the clock method enables you to deal with multi exit roundabouts with ease because it gives you a flexible rule to follow. If the exit you are taking is to the left, signal left on approach and maintain this signal. If the exit you are taking is before 12 o'clock, there is no signal on approach and just signal left when you are leaving. If the exit you are taking is passed 12 o'clock, signal right on approach and change this to a left indicator when you go to leave the roundabout.

As a general guide, you can usually position in the left hand lane on approach to a roundabout if the exit you are taking is before the 12 o'clock position. You would select the right hand lane on approach if your exit was passed the 12 o'clock position. Only where conditions allow, should you leave by the left hand lane.

Note:  To see more on driving in Ireland, please view TripAdvisor's Ireland Driving page.