I know. In the past couple of months it seems like we’ve been hearing so much about roundabouts in the Wenatchee Valley. With the aggravation of all the roundabouts on First Street, to the new ones being created in North Wenatchee and Leavenworth (see article here), it makes our heads spin like Linda Blair’s head in The Exorcist. But “They” tell us that roundabouts are for the most part safer than the 4-way stops. Here are the stats. 

"Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or traffic signals were previously used for traffic control, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Studies by the IIHS and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have shown that roundabouts typically achieve:

37% reduction in overall collisions.

75% reduction in injury collisions.

90% reduction in fatality collisions.

40% reduction in pedestrian collisions."

Yes, we love to hate roundabouts. And for some great reasons as noted in previous articles. But one of the biggest complaints we heard was that people just don’t know how to drive heading into a roundabout. So here are some things to remember. And if you know someone who doesn’t know how to drive in a roundabout….send them this article.

Slow Down: Way down. Duh. This should be obvious, but you’ve seen it. They go at it at the same speed, then honk their horn at you for cutting them off as you enter. Question is, how slow? They say about 15mph.

Yield: There are going to be several different things to yield to. Pedestrians crossing the crosswalk. This can be tricky because many people have forgotten the golden rule we learned in Kindergarten when ready to cross a crosswalk. “Stop, look, and listen.” Many pedestrians simply keep walking. One day I’ll write an article with the basic rules to walking. Same for bicyclist. Often times accidents with a bicyclist happen because they don’t obey the laws of the roads, and because drivers think the bicyclist are going to obey the laws. Also remember to not pass a bicyclist in a roundabout. They are a head of you. Treat them like any other vehicle. And, if there’s a vehicle already in the circle approaching you, yield to them. Of course hoping they are doing the following if they’re not going to drive past you.

Blinker: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yield at a roundabout for someone, only to have them turn right without signaling. I’m always yelling, “BLINKER!” Kinda sounding like Ross in that episode of Friends trying to move a couch up the stairs yelling, “PIVOT! PIVOT!”

Don’t Stop: Specifically, while you’re IN the roundabout to let someone trying to easy into the roundabout. Don’t be that guy. Don’t stop thinking you’re being polite.

Stay in You Lane: This is simple when there’s only one lane within the roundabout. But entering the multi-lane roundabout can get a bit tricky. It’s easy to state the obvious by sticking to the lane you need to be in before you approach the roundabout. Some get confused because they (again) don’t slow down approaching the roundabout. So…slow down. Follow the arrows and the signs. Sometimes people realize that they’re in the wrong lane in the roundabout and cross over to the next one to get to the exit they need. God forbid you cause an accident. This goes with any kind of, “I’ve missed my exit”. Keep driving until you can safely correct your mistake. Even if that means you have to circle around the roundabout. 

Big Rigs: Here’s something to avoid. Getting in the way of a big rig. Or any over-sized vehicle. Give them room. In fact, big rigs will use the center of the circle to help them maneuver within the roundabout. Don’t try to pass them. Don’t drive next to them. Stay behind them. If you’re lucky, they have one of those clear shinny backside and you can see yourself in its reflection. You know you wanna look at yourself. 

Epilogue: Oh sure. I finish this article and then realized that WSDOT actually has a video with some driving rules for roundabouts. So for your viewing pleasure, enjoy the video. 

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