How to use roundabouts and why they are safer

Ontario's Transportation Ministry is unequivocal in claiming traffic circles reduce accidents and deaths. But motorists need to learn the rules for using them and pay close attention to what’s happening in traffic.

By Eric Lai Wheels.ca

Dec 5, 2014 2 min. read

Article was updated 9 years ago

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What’s the proper way to use roundabouts?

MTO spokesperson Ajay Woozageer replies:

Modern roundabouts have a number of benefits over traditional intersections, such as enhanced safety, increased capacity, fewer stops and reduced delays.

Roundabouts remove the potential for head-on and turning collisions, virtually eliminating the serious injuries and fatalities seen at traditional intersections.

Modern roundabouts are designed to significantly slow the speed of approaching vehicles allowing drivers time to evaluate gaps in circulating traffic and either yield or adjust their speed before entering.

While the majority of roundabouts on provincial roadways are single-lane, a few multilane roundabouts have recently been constructed. The navigation of multilane roundabouts is the same as those required for a signalized intersection. To turn left, make a U-turn, or go straight through, a driver should occupy the left lane when approaching the roundabout. The right lane is used to make right hand turns or go straight through.

On approaching the roundabout, signage is provided to assist motorists in selecting and moving into the correct lane (depending on where they wish to exit). Drivers must wait for a sufficient gap in both lanes of traffic to safely enter a roundabout and should signal their intentions upon exiting.

Prior to opening, public information sessions help residents learn how to navigate the roundabout, as does the Official Driver’s Handbook. A video and http://bit.ly/1pUhIF8rules for roundaboutsEND are posted on our website (www.mto.gov.on.ca; search “roundabouts”).

Eric Lai adds:

I have my concerns. Most of us have never encountered these visually-overwhelming traffic circles before and don’t know the rules. Particularly worrisome is being able to enter/exit directly from the inside lane.

MTO has a video explaining roundabout use (search “MTO roundabouts” online).

Basically, yield to traffic within the circle, and take the innermost lane until you get to your exit, or you may use the outer lane in the circle if your exit is the next one up. But obviously, there’s a lot more to it — since it takes police seven minutes to explain roundabout use in the video.

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Roundabouts Sign

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