Editor’s Note: Roundabouts elicit all kinds of opinions, and the comments from our recent Newsletter #585 was no exception. Last week, we presented the first set of comments. Part two also runs the gamut of those for and against signaling in a roundabout.
Readers’ Comments Part 2
No signaling should be required upon entering or exiting a roundabout because it serves no useful purpose. Everyone in front of you and behind you knows you are going to turn right eventually without slowing down. Only changing lanes within a roundabout after entering should require signaling.
This is so obvious—how can there be any other opinion on it? The only reason to legally require signaling upon entering or exiting a roundabout is the hope of collecting “revenue” when people acting on good instinct forget to do what is illogical.
I believe that the rules DefensiveDriving.com suggests are correct. I have used those rules for many years.
James Phend, Florida, NMA Foundation Director
Roundabouts can be and usually are confusing. Many drivers speed through them, causing other more timid users to contemplate what they need to do in such a rushed environment. Adding turn signals to the mix only adds to the confusion.
The Indiana law that requires a motorist to signal 200 yards before a turn is not practical when driving in a roundabout. The attorney general inserting his opinion on the need to signal within seconds of your turn is subjective and not the law.
Dennis Eros, Washington State
“When turning left (last exit/three-quarters around), signal left upon entering, switch to the right as you come to the exit.”
This last suggestion (from the DefensiveDriving.com) makes no sense. If you signal left when entering a traffic circle, people are going to think you are going to go the wrong way. Signaling when you are about to exit the traffic circle makes sense and makes the roundabouts safer for all who drive them.
Alex, New Jersey
Simple: Signal right if moving from left lane to right lane within the circle & when exiting. Don’t signal otherwise. Signaling left when entering the circle implies that you are an idiot who intends to turn clockwise into the circle.
An experienced driver having driven in more than 30 different countries with a million miles behind the wheel, I agree with DefensiveDriving.com’s ideas on navigating roundabouts. My first driving experience in Europe was 45 years ago. I learned how to navigate roundabouts by watching how the European drivers negotiate roundabouts. Many, if not most drivers there use their signals as recommended. I also believe that Europeans are more aware of the driving conditions.
In cities, roundabouts increase the flow of traffic and safety only if drivers yield when they should and take the right of way when they have it. That same logic applies in many driving situations.
I’ve given up. Self-canceling signals found on virtually every light vehicle aren’t conducive to it. Too much wheel movement in both directions.
Mike Siedlecki, Oregon
I can find no other purpose for signaling at a roundabout, except to indicate an intent to exit a roundabout at a particular road, and that’s always to the right.
Thus in Indiana and any other states that have such laws on the books – any legal requirement to signal a left turn or right turn before entering a roundabout should not be enforced.
I’m very sensitive to when signaling is useful, and when it’s not. In a rotary (as we call them in Massachusetts) where one car can’t pass another while circling, there is no need for signaling.
In a rotary where cars can pass others while circling, it would probably be helpful for cars to signal right when they are about to exit if they are in an inner lane of the rotary. And if a vehicle is in an outer lane of the rotary and is going to be passing at least one exit before exiting, it might be useful for the driver to signal left until the car has passed the last exit before it exits.
David Holzman, Massachusetts
As a retired truck driver, I started using turn signals to let others know what my intentions were, so they wouldn’t have to guess. In that way, they may not have to brake, which helps traffic speed in the roundabout. I do not think it should be enforceable, because police ticket hunters will be there to make their cash.
Merrill Gehman, Alaska
One reason the use of turn signals should not be required in roundabouts is that you are continually turning already in one. That requires a lot more attention to your steering wheel, and for a lot of drivers, having to take a hand off the wheel to use a turn signal is problematic. You don’t need to know the other driver’s intentions if they are in front of you because of any direction they choose doesn’t affect you. If you are next to them even a little, a turn signal may not be visible to give you enough time to react anyway.
The other thing about roundabouts is the ridiculous 15 mph speed limit. Have you actually tried to go that slow in one? Just try it when other drivers are around you. I did it once with no one around just to see if I could. Insane!
Clair Oppriecht, Wisconsin
Speaking of roundabouts, here is something I found humorous. Highway 191 going north out of Jackson, Wyoming enters Teton National Park at about 4 miles north of town. No one notices this unless they read a small sign that says “Entering Teton National Park.” Driving in or out of the park is little-noticed because that part of the park has no noted entrance or exit point. If one continues on 191, one eventually exits the park, again without any notification that you’ve ever been in the park.
Gross Ventre junction is seven miles north of town on 191, which is in the park. This junction is for North-South traffic on 191 and East-West traffic on the crossroad, which has a name, which no one remembers. While 191 is a heavily traveled road, the crossroad is a lightly traveled road. Normal people do not think this is a situation where a roundabout would be helpful. For that reason, many people, including myself, wrote letters to the newspaper saying we thought spending $5 million on an unnecessary roundabout would be stupid. Of course, we were not listened to even though the Park Service always complains they don’t have enough money.
The roundabout was built, and it was audacious. In the center was a large statue of something or someone nobody ever heard of, but it was beautiful. It must have at least doubled the cost of the roundabout.
Shortly after the roundabout was finished an 18-wheeler going about 50 miles an hour plowed into it on a dark night. The entire center of the roundabout was demolished. The traffic lanes remained intact. This was a few months ago, and so far, the Park Service hasn’t said when or whether they will rebuild the center structure. It remains in ruins as a testament to the National Park Service’s stupidity.
Kenneth Willis, Wyoming