Roundabouts are common type of road junction and are in effect one-way systems that allow motorists to move more freely with the flow of traffic. This tends to prevent large backlogs of traffic building up, as traffic lights can do. There are different kinds and sizes of roundabout. At the point of entry some may have a single broken white line, while in busier locations roundabouts are more likely to have double broken white lines. It is important to understand the meaning of these road markings as a learner.

On approach to many roundabouts there should be direction signs that will indicate the shape of the roundabouts and how many exist there are in total. Checking the mirrors is important, but also pay careful attention to any vehicle in front of you. Many collisions at roundabouts occur as drivers rear-end the car in front of them because they are watching the traffic on the roundabout not the traffic waiting to get on it, instead often expecting it to have moved on when it hasn’t. Make sure the vehicle has actually moved away before you start to move forward. Get the speed and the gear correct on the approach so that if the way is clear you will be able to merge with the moving traffic without stopping. Check the positioning and steering of other cars. Try to understand their indicators and react accordingly.

Mini-roundabouts follow the same rules as bigger roundabouts. Also when it comes to multiple and satellite roundabout systems, deal with each separately, treating it as you would treat a normal roundabout.

As with all junctions, roundabouts require the ‘Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre’ routine on approach. The manoeuvre is broken down into three sections – Position, Speed and Look.

 Position the car depending on what exit you are intending to take.

 Slow your speed by easing off the gas pedal, braking sufficiently, and then select the appropriate gear to match your speed and

 Look at what you see and question yourself if it is safe to go or do you need to give way to other traffic.

The need to use a safe system of approach – MSM

Mirrors - The importance of checking for traffic following closely by using the interior mirror. Using the outside mirrors when and where necessary on approach.

Signal - The importance of signalling in good time and for the benefit of traffic and pedestrians that can or cannot yet be seen.

Position - The importance of being in the correct road position for turning left, proceeding ahead or turning right depending on the type and size of the roundabout and the movement of approaching traffic, particularly from the right.

Speed and Gear – The importance of correct amount of gentle braking to bring the speed down in enough time to select and engage the gear. Also make sure that the clutch pedal is not pressed down too early on the approach.

Look – The importance of zones of vision. Watch for

 pedestrians who are crossing the approach to the roundabout or exit roads.

 traffic crossing in front of you mainly the vehicles that are going to leave the next exit.

 traffic straddling lanes or positioned incorrectly

 motorcyclists on the road

 cyclists and horse riders (who must stay in the left hand lane but signal right if they intend to go around the roundabout)

 long vehicles move across several lanes so be careful and watch for their signals.

Make sure that you do not cause another vehicle to change speed or direction when emerging.


Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (M-S-M)


well before



correct line

on approach

when turning or emerging

Correct regulation of speed

Not approaching too


Correct use of brakes/gears

Not coasting on approach

or when turning


give way to traffic approaching from the immediate right

give way to pedestrians who are crossing and

to ensure you will not endanger other traffic using the roundabout

to comply with road markings


Turning Left -

When approaching roundabouts, positioning is crucial and it helps let others know what your intentions are. If you are taking the first exit, keep to the left side of the road and indicate left. Slow down and be prepared to give way and as always keep looking to anticipate the actions of other road users. Stay in the left lane when using the roundabout, so you are ready to easily leave at the first exit.

Going straight ahead –

If you are going straight ahead, again keep left and stay in the left lane unless the road signs indicate a specific lane to be in on the approach. Be aware of other traffic at all times, and don’t forget some vehicles will be turning off before you or will need to move to the left lane too. Once you’ve just passed the exit before the one you’re leaving at, indicate left. Make good use of your nearside door mirror ensuring there is no one who will be inconvenienced by you turning off.

Turning right-

If you are turning right, stay over to the right on your approach and indicate as such. Keep to the right hand lane and maintain the right signal on the roundabout. Once you have passed the exit before the one you want, change your signal, make good use of your nearside mirror and move over to the left hand lane. Once you have left the roundabout, make sure your signal has been cancelled and check for following traffic in your mirrors.

Intermediate exit-

If you’re intended exit is classed as intermediate exit or between the obvious left and the right turns you must approach in the most appropriate lane. As a guideline, imagine the roundabout as a clock face and for any exit before the 12 o’clock position (Fig. 1) use the left hand lane. For any exit beyond the 12 o’clock position (Fig. 2) use the right hand lane. If the roundabout has more than two lanes then use the most appropriate lane. Some roundabouts have traffic lights which determine priority otherwise the usual rules apply.

(Fig. 1)


(Fig. 2)


Frequently asked questions-

1. Some of the faults to avoid while approaching roundabouts are as below;

 Not recognising the roundabout in time

 Not making effective use of the mirrors well before signalling or changing direction

 Incorrect positioning on approach

 Positioning too late

 Approaching too fast/slow

 Not braking sufficiently before gear changing

 Coasting

 Not giving way to pedestrians who are crossing

 Not properly observing ‘Give Way’ lines

 Not anticipating traffic from the right waiting for traffic from ahead

 Undue hesitancy

Food for thought – (You should give a think to the below and discuss this with your instructor)

How do you spot roundabouts?

When should you state your intention before a turn?



Contents of this lesson are taken from:

DVLA – The Official Highway Code

Adi News Magazine

LDC Driving School’s YouTube videos

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