So I have recently moved to England. As expected there have been a number of culture-shocky things that I’ve run into over the last few months. Not least of which has been learning to drive on the left. That’s been a challenge. But to complicate the matter, the Brits insist on completely overdoing this little traffic feature that we rarely sport in the United States: roundabouts.
Now, at first I was terrified. Driving on the left is stressful enough without having to go around a frightening, unmarked, roller-derby rink with enough motorists, cyclists, and oddly placed traffic lights to make Twisted Metal look like go-karting.
But then I started to realize, with Hawkgirl’s simple instruction, that they actually make a kind of sense—in a maniacal sort of way, but sense nonetheless. So much so that, in view of rising fuel costs, CO2 emissions, and just-hating-to-stop-at-a-red-light-when-no-one-is-coming… I think America should consider incorporating the roundabout into their traffic system.
Now, I am an American, and I would never have agreed with me on this if I hadn’t said it. So for my American readers, let me at least explain. I’ve even drawn you some little diagrams, but they are dealing with the left side of the road. So if you get confused, you can save the image and swap it around in your own editing software to get the idea. But here it goes…
Hawkgirl said: Think of it as a four-way stop. But if no one is coming, then you can just go.
… If it is clear, you can just cruise through without a complete stop (in fact, multiple cars at a time can cruise through, one after another, as long as there is no oncoming traffic, saving time and gas, and energy …)
“But what about all that dangerous weaving?”
There is an element of… improvisation to the process. But you can cut down on the crazy by signaling. Again, you treat it like a four-way.
Five-way junctions are trickier on the signaling, but that’s true no matter where you are. And I think that a five-way roundabout is actually safer than a fire-way stop. I mean, come on. Who actually has any clue what they’re doing at a five-way stop? No motorist I’ve observed.
But in a roundabout, the age old rule is still true: if it’s not clear, don’t go! Otherwise, go!
Hopefully with this knowledge you will feel more confident in approaching a roundabout, so in the future you can avoid this:
…or else this…
… or worst …
… And instead you can join the world as a fuel efficient, eco-safe, not waiting-when-you-don’t-have-to-wait motorist. And you can do it with a smile!