Monday, 11 July 2005

Driving #2 - Roundabouts

On the whole, I'm a really courteous driver. It's no skin off my nose to give way when rows of traffic merge or a car needs to pull out of a side road when the traffic is non-stop in its path. However, I have an issue with roundabouts and other drivers who seem too nervous to take their turn. You arrive at a roundabout and everyone else is sitting there: three lines of traffic all stopped because no-one seems able to make the first move.

So, by the time I reach the line I'll just go on my way because no-one else seems to want to go. Goodness only knows what other drivers must think of me in that situation. Do I seem selfish or road hogging I wonder, because I certainly don't mean to be.

The rule of the roundabout is to give way to the right. Simple as that. Without any need for traffic lights it is a self-regulating way of having a junction.

The US don't seem to have much in the way of roundabouts - but I think they call them something else. I remember my first roundabout in France. Many years ago it was and I was driving on a provisional license which it seems you could do then. The only trouble is that in France, not only do you drive on the "wrong" side of the road, but also you have to go the "wrong" way round the roundabout. Fresh off the England to France ferry is always scary but to suddenly have to cope with a roundabout took the biscuit. Luckily it was barely a hump in the road roundabout because, so flummoxed by it, I drove straight over it.

Some towns and cities in the UK seem to have roundabouts down to an art form that it is common to have two or more roundabouts connected. Actually, I don't think it is an art form but rather the planners in the municipal offices had too much to drink and pee'd themselves laughing thinking of the most novel and confounding arrangements.

I think the prize goes to the "magic roundabouts". These are large roundabouts with mini roundabouts at each entrance/exit. The first time I came across one I had been warned by Mr Doris that I'd be going the wrong way round until such and such turning. I wasn't quite so confident a driver in those days and that was terrifying. Maybe successfully navigating that one gave me the confidence one can only get from major achievements such as circumnavigating the world or climbing Everest.

Original Comments:

B said...
In New England we've given them the clever name of "Traffic Circles". I don't think they call them that in the rest of the United States...
Monday, July 11, 2005 6:00:00 PM
Milt Bogs said...
Thnks for that one Doris and the links. I've been waiting for the accident to happen. It's better than a screen saver.

Milt Bogs said...
Sorry. I seem to have messed the comment up.
Monday, July 11, 2005 6:04:00 PM
doris said...
Isn't that a great graphic Milt! Quite mesmerising.

B - Traffic circle sounds more of a mouthful than roundabout. Nothing like saying it as it is!
Monday, July 11, 2005 7:44:00 PM
The Mad Perseid said...
We have two in this town, one big one and one small one. The big has signs on it that list town names in that direction. When you're new to town, you don't want to know about some town 15 kilometers away, you want to know the street you're trying to find.
Monday, July 11, 2005 7:54:00 PM
doris said...
We usually get two sets of signs. The first has the long distance destinations and the second has the local destinations (but not usually the one you want!). Only trouble I find, is that I now have a poor short-term memory and by the time I've read the second sign post I've forgotten the first. I've travelled some lovely diversions as a result!
Monday, July 11, 2005 8:22:00 PM
Vito said...
We have one of those a few miles from where I work and it's just called a circle. Recently when I visited Plymouth, MA.,USA there was one there. There was a traffic sign that said any car already in the circle already had the right of way.
Monday, July 11, 2005 9:01:00 PM
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Monday, July 11, 2005 9:01:00 PM
doris said...
Vito - that is so funny..... that you have so few you can remember where it is! I don't think the UK could function without them.

That's a colourful blog you have there.... congrats on becoming a soon-to-be-Grandad :-)
Monday, July 11, 2005 9:09:00 PM
doris said...
Whoops - I see your blog is not linked to your Profile.... my comment looks strange! I've been caught out and visited your blog via my stats page!
Monday, July 11, 2005 9:10:00 PM
Minerva said...
I remember learning to drive with my father in North Borneo and when he said, go straight over the roundabout, I did.....
Cue red faced father and daughter...


Monday, July 11, 2005 10:24:00 PM
Bernadette said...
I feel like I've been driving around in circles, Doris!
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 1:55:00 AM
jane said...
oh goodness, i wouldnt even attempt to drive on one of those! i'd like to see one in action tho. preferrably with tourists driving it! hehehe sometimes i'm wicked.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:22:00 AM
Cheryl said...
I remember a friend coming back from her first American holiday very indignant. The car in front had done a U turn on the freeway, through a hole in the crash barrier, so her dad did too. He got arrested. Hahahahahaha. Sorry.
Any wonder the idea of learning to drive gets scarier the older I get? I hate roundabouts even as a passenger.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:44:00 AM
Karen said...
There is nothing wrong with being an assertive driver – I too get a bit p***ed off when people start hesitating at roundabouts – My other pet hate is when people don’t indicate, come on it’s not that hard to flash a little light so I know where you are heading………Good night said zebedee *BOING*
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 9:47:00 AM
Cheryl said...
Oh Karen, as a pedestrian, you have NO IDEA how much jerks who wont indicate pee me off. Missing a gap to cross a busy road because a car turned off but you didn't know it was going to - thats aggravating.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 12:46:00 PM
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005 2:08:00 PM
Pookie65 said...
Speaking from experience here, it's quite amusing to watch people adapt to a roundabout. It's becoming more and more popular in my area and many times the other driver(s) will just stop and wonder what the hell to do next. The look on their faces is priceless.

I swear I've seen the occasion where I could just drive around and round in circles by the time people figure it out. Hey - that sounds like fun actually. Perhaps I'll give it a shot. Someone will follow my lead and it will be a great big old merry-go-round for cars. Weeeeeeeeeee......
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 2:11:00 PM
doris said...
Minerva - North Borneo sounds like quite a location to learn to drive! And I think it is commonplace to go across the roundabout when we're still learning :-)

Bonnie - LOL - especially when you sit watching the animated gif that Milt Bogs linked to!

Jane - they really are OK. Just take some getting used to.

Cheryl - always the way... the locals can do summat but don't you go trying to do it 'cos you won't get away with it.

Karen - I am so glad I am not the only one. I don't mind learners and hesitant drivers but when everyone at the roundabouts are hesitant you know this is not right, or that it is scary to think who are actually driving on our roads and if they are really competant enough.

Cheryl and Karen - I too agree with the indicators. And it also bugs me that car drivers think they have right of way at all time, especially when turning onto side roads and poor pedestrians have to flee for their lives. I was crossing a side road with son the other day, and this woman in a car with a young child had the audacity to bleep us because we weren't getting across fast enough. You'd have thought she should know better.

Pookie - I have done several rounds on a roundabout and it is quite funny. Not in a reckless kind of way you know.... I was taking teenage daughter and friend to a party and she decided she didn't want to be there on time but a little late. So to demonstrate the absurdity of asking me to drive on a bit so that she could be fashionably late I stayed on the roundabout. She was soon embarrassed and asked to go straight to the party after all.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 2:26:00 PM
Pearl said...
I never encountered one myself until last year when my town built one. It seems a straight forward idea but takes a moment's thought.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 4:04:00 PM
Ally said...
I am absolutely fine with European roundabouts, so long as there are other people using them as well - I only run in to trouble when I'm all alone and don't have other traffic to follow :).
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 4:44:00 PM
Ghone said...
I guess none of you have ever been to Milton Keynes.
It's called the city of roundabouts! There are only about 30 sets of traffic lights in the entire city!
So the only major clogs we get are when Eminem or Oasis come to town.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 11:48:00 PM
DaFFy said...
My personal favourite roundabout was The Magic Roundabout with that springy thing called Zebedee and a dog named Dougall. This comment doesn't really have a lot of relevance to your post - except nostalgia :)
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 1:42:00 AM
doris said...
Daffy - reference's to Zebedee's Magic Roundabout are only to be expected. As long as they are happy memories. I found it quite tedious, but I did have a fluffy Dougal pyjama case - it was just after gonks had passed their peak. Now what were those gonks supposed to be about? (Or are you too young to remember them?)
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 9:41:00 AM
Maria said...
Told you I would be back to read more. We have a traffic circle on the Navy Base next to the town I live in. It is the only one that I am aware of and since there isn't much traffic I enjoy it. I think traffic circle is what they are called here on the west coast of the USA
Thursday, July 14, 2005 2:11:00 PM

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