Driving in circles: Step-by-step instructions on how to use roundabouts



NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Lately, it seems like local transportation gurus with North Fulton’s cities have caught roundabout fever. Roswell finished the first one in the region several years ago, and Milton is slated to wrap up two more this year, with a third on the way. There are so many roundabouts, I get the chance to dust off my column on navigating them.

Given the novelty of the circular traffic devices, many people are not familiar with the correct way to navigate them. So here’s a quick guide on the proper use of a roundabout.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a roundabout is a circular intersection, where traffic goes in the same counter-clockwise direction around a center island.

Roundabouts can be a good alternative to traffic signals and stop signs to control traffic. In many cases, they have several advantages over traditional controls. They have fewer accidents and fewer injuries, severe crashes and fatalities. They increase pedestrian safety and produce less vehicle delay and pollution because traffic actually moves faster through a roundabout intersection. Most of these bonuses are the result of traffic going at reduced speeds but in the same direction.

Despite their relative novelty in the States, roundabouts enjoy common status in Europe, notably the British Isles, as a cheap and reliable alternative to the traditional traffic signal. They also slow down and regulate traffic without stopping it.

Not to be left behind on any trend, North Fulton’s cities are plowing ahead with roundabouts. Alpharetta has a roundabout at Douglas Road and Southlake Drive, with another near the new City Center at Haynes Bridge Road. Milton is planning a roundabout at Birmingham Highway (Ga. 372) and Providence Road, as well as at the intersection of Hopewell Road, Francis Road and Cogburn Road. Johns Creek has a roundabout planned at Bell Road and Boles Road. Roswell is planning another one at Houze and Hembree roads.

With all these new roundabouts popping up like mushrooms, the big question remains – how do you drive through it?

Here’s a step-by-step guide.

1. When approaching the roundabout, slow down and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

2. Approach the yield line, look to the left and yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Traffic in the roundabout has the right-of-way.

3. Enter the roundabout when there is an adequate gap in circulating traffic. If another car is waiting at the yield line ahead of you, do not stop in the crosswalk. Keep the crosswalk clear for pedestrians.

4. Bicyclists are permitted to ride within the roundabout. Please do not pass a bicycle in the roundabout.

5. Once you have entered the roundabout, you have the right-of-way. Keep your speed low within the roundabout and proceed counter-clockwise (to the right).

6. As you approach your exit, turn on your right turn signal.

7. Exit the roundabout, yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

8. Breathe a sigh of relief and be on your merry way.

See? How hard is that? It’s so easy, it should be a Geico commercial.

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