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Roundabouts of England

The British LOVE Traffic Circles - Roundabouts they are called. They are the best invention to speed traffic flow that was ever invented as long as they are used properly. Sadly in America each state has it’s own laws governing roundabouts so no one knows what to do. You as a visitor to the United Kingdom will no doubt be awestruck by them.

If you are intending to drive a car whilst in England you need to know how to use roundabouts effectively. I doubt you will get even a mile from the car rental lot without encountering one.

Seriously, the one rule you need to know about roundabouts is: Slow down when coming to one and 'give way' to traffic already on the roundabout. If there's a car already on the circle, they have the right of way.

You will encounter roundabouts frequently when driving in the countryside. They are on minor roads and on major roads. They are even used for entrances onto the Motorways (the M roads). Usually they handle the situation where two roads intersect. Instead of having stop signs or traffic lights, there is a roundabout. Once you get used to them, you will realize that they work well and let the traffic flow.

Roundabouts are well signed. As you approach, a few hundred yards from the roundabout, there will be a large traffic sign showing where each exit from the roundabout goes. This will be shown by highway route numbers and the larger town destinations for the highway. After this first sign, there is usually a smaller sign for the same roundabout, but showing smaller towns that each exit goes to. Once you are in the roundabout, each exit is clearly marked showing both the major and minor towns.

A roundabout road sign

The sign above is posted on the road well before the roundabout. It clearly shows which towns are in each direction. You enter the roundabout from the road at the bottom of the sign (6 o'clock). Some roundabouts have more exits and are not as straight forward as this one.

If these roads had been major roads (A roads), the sign would have been in green to indicate this. Green signs show roundabouts on A roads; white signs for B roads.

Basic Rule: Look to the right for oncoming traffic, then drive clockwise in the roundabout (exits are on the left).


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