Since 2004, roundabouts have been an important part of our roadway landscape in Waterloo Region. These circular intersections improve road safety, manage increased traffic demand, and help improve air quality by eliminating unnecessary stops and idling.
A roundabout is an intersection at which all traffic circulates counter-clockwise around a centre island. Entering motorists yield to traffic (in any lane) already circulating in the roundabout.
The Region's 2012 "Learn the Turn! ... Roundabout Essentials 2012" roundabout education campaign includes a new roundabout training video. This video teaches you the essential skills in order to drive a roundabout properly, safely and easily. Take the wheel, click on the link below and we'll take you step by step through driving in a roundabout. We believe that you will find it as easy as going through any square intersection.
Click on the following links for sections of the video.
The Region's 2011 "Practice makes perfect!" roundabout education campaign included a series of 4 instructional television commercials highlighting proper driving habits at roundabouts.
Click on the links below to watch the television commercials.
Yielding to Pedestrians
Great Roundabout Radio Contest
As part of the 2011 campaign, new commercials, to teach and remind the community on the important points of driving a roundabout were created and produced by local high school students and are the winners of the Great Roundabout Radio Contest. The commercials were aired on 91.5 The Beat in February 2012. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS - Great job! Click on the links below to listen.
The following presentation was provided to Regional Council members and the public on October 30, 2012. This presentation provides an overview of motorist and pedestrian safety, the selection process, driving etiquette, crossing options and considerations.
In many ways, a roundabout is safer for pedestrians than a traffic signal.
At a roundabout, compared to a signalized intersection:
A pedestrian has two crossings of one-way traffic moving at slower speeds.
Slower speeds means drivers have more time to judge and react to pedestrians.
The crossing distance is shorter.
The pedestrian watches for traffic in just one direction at a time.
Without a traffic control signal to divert drivers' attention upward, drivers can focus on vehicles and pedestrians around them.
Drivers are more likely to look toward pedestrian pathways. By comparison, in turning at a traffic signal, drivers are often watching for conflicting traffic, looking left while turning right for example.
Driver and pedestrian are more likely to be alert and aware of each other because both have to decide when to go.
Pedestrian Safety Statistics
Between 2006 and 2010, the Region recorded two pedestrian collisions at roundabouts. This means, on average, one pedestrian collision every 25 years per roundabout. By comparison, the Region recorded 86 pedestrian collisions at 200 traffic signals that had similar traffic and pedestrian volumes. This means, on average, one pedestrian collision every 11 years per traffic signal.
A 2011 study completed by Regional staff found:
Approximately 900 pedestrians cross 13 Regional roundabouts every day.
An estimated 300,000 pedestrians cross 13 Regional roundabouts per year.
An estimated 1,200,000 pedestrians have crossed Regional roundabouts safely over the past 5 years.
Less serious injuries occur at roundabouts compared to traffic signals.
A study of 30 roundabouts in Ontario found that pedestrian collision rates are approximately 40 to 60 per cent less than pedestrian collision rates at comparable traffic signals with similar traffic and pedestrian volumes.
Step up to the curb of the marked pedestrian crossing, extend your arm and point your finger across the crosswalk.
Do not start to cross if a driver cannot safely stop for you.
Look and listen for a safe gap in the traffic flow before crossing.
As you cross, keep pointing until you reach the far side of the road.
Keep watching all the way across. As you cross a multi-lane roundabout, watch for a driver coming in the next lane. Make sure that the driver sees you.
Do NOT cut across the middle of the roundabout.
Use the splitter island. This will let you cross one direction of traffic at a time. Wait on the splitter island if needed until there is a gap in the traffic flow.
Good Body Language
Drivers are more likely to yield the crosswalk to you if your body language shows you intend to cross. Use the following assertive body language to communicate your intention:
Scan for a gap in traffic as you come up to the crosswalk.
Approach the crosswalk briskly and deliberately.
Point across the crosswalk.
Make eye contact with approaching drivers.
Start to cross as soon as you are sure the driver intends to slow or stop to yield the crosswalk to you.
Poor Body Language
Drivers are more likely NOT to yield the crosswalk if you exhibit the following passive body language:
Not looking at drivers.
Walking slowly up to the crosswalk or standing on the sidewalk back from the curb.
Standing with your hands on your hips.
Setting down your grocery bags.
Playing with your cell phone or music player.
Beginning muscle stretches if you have jogged up to the intersection and seem to be filling in time.
Not taking advantage of an appropriate gap in traffic to start crossing.
Waving drivers on.
Hesitating and not starting to cross even if a vehicle slows to yield the crosswalk to you.
Think ahead and look ahead.
Pedestrians go first. When entering or exiting the roundabout, drivers should yield the crosswalk to pedestrians.
Don't pass a vehicle that is slowing down as it approaches a crosswalk. There may be a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
Don't block the crosswalk.
If you think you don't have enough time to watch for pedestrians, slow down. Don't accelerate until you are past the crosswalk at your exit.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
How do I signal at a roundabout?
When taking the first exit (turning right):
Signal right and approach in the right-hand lane.
Keep to the right in the roundabout and continue signalling right to leave.
When going straight through:
Select the appropriate lane on approach to and in the roundabout.
Stay in this lane until you need to exit the roundabout.
Signal right after you have passed the exit before the one you want. Exit directly from the lane in which you are travelling.
When taking the last exit (to go left) or going full circle (u-turn):
Signal left and approach in the left-hand lane.
Keep to the left in the roundabout and signal as soon as you have passed the exit before the one you want. Exit directly from the lane in which you are travelling.
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. Observations reported suggest that motorists using their left-turn signal improve vehicle-to-vehicle communications and motorist decision making.
To confirm our findings, we have requested other road authorities to study the effects of motorists using their left-turn signal at roundabouts and report their findings.
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:
Enter from the right lane.
Travel in the outer lane of the roundabout.
Exit directly from the right lane.
If you are driving straight through:
You may enter from either the left or the right lane.
Exit directly from the lane you are in.
If you are turning left:
Enter from the left lane.
Travel in the inner lane of the roundabout.
Exit directly from the inner lane.
Proper travelling lanes are shown in the pictures below.
Turning Right and Turning Left
Driving Straight Through
How do I cycle through a roundabout?
A cyclist has a number of choices at a roundabout. The choice you make will depend on your degree of comfort riding in traffic. The choices are:
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.
Watch out for drivers' blind spots.
Dismount and walk your bicycle.
What if an emergency vehicle comes through the roundabout?
If you have not yet entered the roundabout, pull to the right and let the emergency vehicle pass.
If you are in the roundabout, exit as usual, then pull to the right and let the emergency vehicle pass you.
Note: Do not stop inside the roundabout because you may block the emergency vehicle.
What are the common types of collisions at a roundabout?
Three types of collisions are more common:
Rear-end collision, usually at the entrance to the roundabout.
Entering collision, when a vehicle entering the roundabout does not yield to a vehicle already in the roundabout.
Exiting collision, when a vehicle in the outer lane does not yield to a vehicle that is exiting from the inner lane.
What about snow removal at roundabouts?
Road crews have changed the way they clear snow. Generally there are no problems with snow removal in roundabouts.
Understanding Roundabout Signs
What do the signs at a roundabout mean?
The roundabout is at the intersection of Highland Road West and Ira Needles Boulevard. Choose your destination.
Keep To The Right
There are two entry lanes to this roundabout. Choose the correct lane for your destination. If you are turning left, get in the left lane. If you are turning right, get in the right lane. If you are going straight through you can be in either lane.
Various lane combinations are possible depending on the roundabout design. The circular symbol on the left-lane designation sign represents the central island of the roundabout and therefore this lane is the inside (left-most) lane. Do not change lanes within the roundabout.
Yield to all traffic in the roundabout, including pedestrians at the crosswalk. Remember "Yield" means you may have to stop!
One-way traffic (counter clockwise) in a roundabout.
Flag exit signs are situated on splitter islands and identify each leg of the roundabout. These signs are intended to reassure that you have chosen the appropriate exit leg.
This exit is Arthur Street. Use your right-turn signal to signal your exit.
Yield here to pedestrian.
Right lane ends. Find a suitable gap and merge with traffic in left lane. If you are already in the left lane, be prepared to provide a gap for merging traffic.