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Wednesday, 03 June 2015

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Mirror, signal, manoeuvre - a roundabout guide

The long awaited Carlisle Western bypass has now opened and the nine roundabouts on its five mile length has, according to a group of driving instructors, got drivers in a bit of a spin.

Well, that won’t come as any surprise to those of us who use the roads of the UK day in, day out – roundabout discipline is appalling and has been for some time.

Too many people don’t know which lane to be in or when to indicate. This leaves the rest of us wondering what the clowns are up to and trying our very best to keep well out of their way.

Of course, the problems are not confined to roundabouts.

We have a system where the driving test is simply not rigorous enough for the driving conditions and the amount of traffic on our roads today and too many driving instructors do not actually teach anyone to drive, they teach them to pass a test.

This leaves the newly qualified driver having to ‘learn on the job’.

I don’t subscribe to the view that our roads are responsible for the appalling accident record we have in Cumbria amongst young drivers.

The problem lies with how they were taught and the fact that having been let loose on their own they simply do not know how to deal with the many varied conditions they face.

Yes, the roads could be improved but more important is improving driving standards and you won’t do that by withdrawing police officers from Road Traffic Patrols and leaving the toothless Highways Agency Traffic Officers to try and look important!

You certainly won’t get that by handing over traffic matters to private companies either.

I think we are reaching the point where drivers should have to rest a test every 10 years and the first test should be made many times more robust with more emphasis on different conditions.

This will deny the lazy instructors the opportunity of driving round and round the designated test routes (and we know you do!).

But back to roundabouts.

To safely navigate a roundabout you need to plan and that starts when you see the advanced sign showing the various turns thou can make.


If your exit is PAST the 12 O’Clock position yo must indicate RIGHT and, if there are two lanes, make sure you are in the RIGHT hand lane.

Move onto the roundabout when it is safe to do so and remain on the right hand side of the carriageway until you are at the centre of the exit BEFORE yours when you change your final to a LEFT turn.

At ALL times check your mirrors for the muppets who drive all the way around the outside of the roundabout.

When your junction is BEFORE the 12 O’Clock position, get in the left hand lane and signal LEFT if your exit is the first one. If it is not the first, do not indicate at all until you pass the centre of the exit before yours when you begin a left turn signal.

Finally, if your are going straight ahead and it is shown on the sign as being EXACTLY the 12 O’Clock position you may use EITHER lane on entry but if the left hand lane is clear you should use that. The lane you use to enter dictates where you round the roundabout (left hand lane = left hand side, Right hand lane + right hand side) and you also leave by the SAME lane after making a left turn signal as you pass the exit before yours.

Of course, there are roundabouts that do throw the unwary: The one on the A66 at Rheghed is interesting because the first exit is at the 12 O’Clock position (treat it as if you are turning left!) and the double roundabouts you occasionally find do need that extra bit of thought.

The key, of course, is KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING and LET EVERYONE KNOW BY USING SIGNALS. In the meantime, I treat every other road user as a muppet and keep well out of their way!


By Ashley Tiffen
Published: March 15, 2012


Have your say

The Rheged reference is only true if you are travelling eastbound on the A66, otherwise the A592 and the entrance to the Rheged centre itself are on the left before the continuation of the A66 going westbound. It really isn't a strange roundabout at all.

Posted by BM on 19 April 2012 at 13:51

The roundabout at Northside Workington drives me crackers when approaching from town side and going to Asda. I have been in the right hand side lane and been cut up from the left and vice versa!! Perhaps it's just my driving! ;-)

Posted by Kerry on 19 April 2012 at 09:08

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