WHAT IS A ROUNDABOUT/TRAFFIC CIRCLE?
Roundabouts and traffic circles are circular intersections. They are designed to improve traffic flow and safety. In this kind of intersection, the traffic goes in a counterclockwise circle around a center island instead of having vehicles turn directly in front of each other. This helps reduce the instances of 't-bone' and head-on collisions.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
While they work the same way, there are design differences between roundabouts and traffic circles. Sometimes, a roundabout is defined as a circular intersection with one lane and a traffic circle as a circular intersection with two lanes. But here we'll use the term 'traffic circle' to refer to both roundabouts and traffic circles.
Check out this video to learn more:
HOW TO USE TRAFFIC CIRCLES
There are two main rules about traffic circles:
- You have to yield to vehicles already in the circle.
- You have to yield to vehicles on your left.
One-Lane Traffic Circle
When entering a traffic circle with only one lane, you must yield to drivers already in the circle. Remember to also watch out for pedestrians! One it's safe, you can enter the roundabout.
To exit the traffic circle, turn on your right turn signal as soon as you pass the exit right before the one you want to take. This lets other drivers know that you will be exiting the circle at the next exit.
Make sure to scan for pedestrians as you exit the traffic circle. If pedestrians are crossing, you must yield the right of way before exiting.
Two-Lane Traffic Circle
You use a traffic circle with two lanes in basically the same way as a roundabout with one lane, but you have to also remember to yield to vehicles on your left. That means that if you are in the right hand lane (or outside lane) and a vehicle beside you in the left hand lane (or inside lane) wants to exit, you have to allow them to exit.
Do not change lanes in the traffic circle. If you enter in the right hand lane, stay in the right hand lane until you exit.
Plan ahead! If you are turning right (exiting at the first exit), it is safest to enter the traffic circle in the right hand lane so you can turn right into the first exit. If you are exiting at the second or third exit, it is safest to enter the traffic circle in the left hand lane.
When exiting from the left hand lane, remember to turn on your right turn signal when you pass the exit right before the one you intend to take. Use caution and make sure to shoulder check to your right before exiting. Although you have the right of way to exit, you should make sure drivers in the right hand lane have yielded to you.
Read more about roundabouts at Alberta.ca.
Learn more about navigating traffic circles in Alberta's Driver's guide to operation, safety and licensing: cars and light trucks.
Watch the Alberta Motor Association's YouTube video showing the do's and don'ts of using roundabouts.