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Frequently Asked Questions about Roundabouts

1. Why is there landscaping in the middle of the roundabout?

2. How do I signal at a roundabout?

3. Why should I signal at a roundabout?

4. I'm not a confident driver.  Should I just drive in the outer lane?

5. How do I cycle through a roundabout?

6. What if an emergency vehicle comes through the roundabout?

7. Why are roundabouts different sizes?

8. Will a big truck fit in a roundabout?

9. What are the common types of collisions at a roundabout?

10. What about snow removal at roundabouts?


1.     Why is there landscaping in the middle of the roundabout?

Landscaping is designed to prevent drivers from seeing the headlights of oncoming vehicles at night. It gives drivers a clear indication that there is an obstruction in the roadway and that they cannot drive straight ahead.  As a driver entering a roundabout, you should look to the left, not across the roundabout, to see what traffic is approaching.

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2.     How do I signal at a roundabout? 

A roundabout is similar to an intersection with signals you need to signal the direction in which you are going to take.  When turning right, you need to signal right, when going straight you don't signal, and when turning left or doing a U-turn you signal left.  The only difference is that whenever you exit a roundabout you need to signal right to show you are exiting.  Below are step by step directions on how to signal:

Turning Right

  • Signal right as you approach the roundabout in the right-hand lane.
  • Maintain your signal through the roundabout and stay in the right-hand lane.
  • Maintain your signal as you exit in the right-hand lane.

Going Straight

  • Do not signal as you approach the roundabout and select the appropriate lane.
  • Stay in this lane until you need to exit the roundabout.
  • Signal right prior to your exit, and exit from the lane you are in.

Turning Left

  • Signal left as you approach the roundabout in the left-hand lane.
  • Maintain your signal through the roundabout and stay in the left-hand lane.
  • Signal right prior to your exit, and exit in the left-hand lane.

Going full circle (U-turn)

  • Signal left as you approach the roundabout in the left-hand lane.
  • Maintain your signal through the roundabout and stay in the left-hand lane.
  • Signal right prior to your exit, and exit in the left-hand lane.

Click here to visit the "How to Use A Roundabout" webpage.

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3.     Why should I signal at a roundabout?

A Region of Waterloo study at multi-lane roundabouts shows that motorists using their left-turn signal improve driver yield rates, improve vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and improves motorist decision making.

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4.     I'm not a confident driver. Should I just drive in the outer lane?

No. You must drive in the proper lane. Do not change lanes in the roundabout.

If you are turning right (black arrow in picture below):

  1. Enter from the right lane.
  2. Travel in the outer lane of the roundabout.
  3. Exit directly from the right lane.

Diagram of how to turn right in a roundabout

If you are driving straight through (black and yellow arrows in picture below):

  1. You may enter from either the left or the right lane.
  2. Exit directly from the lane you are in.

Diagram of how to drive straight through a roundabout

If you are turning left (yellow arrow in picture below):

  1. Enter from the left lane.
  2. Travel in the inner lane of the roundabout.
  3. Exit directly from the inner lane.

Diagram of how to turn left in a roundabout

Click here to visit the "How to Use A Roundabout" webpage.

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5.  How do I cycle through a roundabout? 

A cyclist has two choices at a roundabout.  Your choice will depend on your degree of comfort riding in traffic:

For Experienced cyclists

  • Ride as if you were driving a car.
  • Merge into the travel lane before the bike lane or shoulder ends.
  • Ride in the middle of your lane; don't hug the curb.
  • Use hand signals and signal as if you were a motorist:

Turning Right

  • Signal right as you approach the roundabout.
  • Maintain your signal through the roundabout.
  • Maintain your signal as you exit.

Going Straight

  • Do not signal as you approach the roundabout.
  • Signal right prior to your exit only.

Turning Left

  • Signal Left as you approach the roundabout.
  • Maintain your signal through the roundabout.
  • Signal right prior to your exit.

Going full circle (U-turn)

  • Signal left as you approach the roundabout.
  • Maintain your signal through the roundabout.
  • Signal Right prior to your exit.
  • Watch out for drivers' blind spots.

For Less Confident Cyclists

  • Dismount and walk your bicycle.
  • Follow tips for pedestrians:
    • Step to the curb and point your finger across.
    • Look and listen for a safe gap in traffic flow.
    • Do not cross until the driver stops.
    • Keep and make eye contact with drivers in all lanes.
    • Do not cross cross the middle of the roundabout.
    • Wait on the splitter island. 

Click here to visit the "How to Use A Roundabout" webpage.

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6.  What if an emergency vehicle comes through the roundabout?

  • Do not stop inside the roundabout.
  • If you have not yet entered the roundabout, pull to the right and let the emergency vehicles pass you.
  • If you are in the roundabout, exit as normal, then pull to the right and let the emergency vehicle pass you.

Click here to visit the "How to Use A Roundabout" webpage.

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7.  Why are roundabouts different sizes?

The amount of traffic and appropriate travel speed generally determine the size of a roundabout. They are large enough for buses and large trucks, but small enough that you need to slow down to go around them.

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8.     Will a big truck fit in a roundabout?

 Yes. At a roundabout, drivers of large trucks should:

  • Straddle the entry lanes.
  • Use both lanes within the roundabout.
  • Don't try to leave space for another vehicle to pass you.

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9.     What are the common types of collisions at a roundabout?

  1. Entering collision, when a vehicle entering the roundabout does not yield to a vehicle already in the roundabout.
  2. Rear-end collision, usually at the entrance to the roundabout.
  3. Turning collision caused by drivers using incorrect lane.  Example: Turning left from right lane. 

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10.  What about snow removal at roundabouts? 

Generally there are no problems with snow removal in roundabouts.

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