GIG HARBOR, Wash. — Around and around we go!
When Take 5 asked you the source of your biggest traffic headaches, many of you said: roundabouts — and the fact that so many of us seemingly have no idea how to drive through them.
So we took the wheel with our favorite traffic expert, Washington State Patrol Trooper Johnna Batiste. She directed us to an area of Gig Harbor where the roundabouts are aplenty and gave us her top 5 tips:
Roundabout Rule #1: Read the signs before you get into one! As you approach a roundabout, there are signs clearly marking where each lane ends up. In other words, if you know you need to turn left at an intersection, and it turns out there's a roundabout there, a glance at the signs should show you which lane to be in and which exit to take out of the roundabout.
Roundabout Rule #2: The proper way to enter a roundabout? YIELD! I put that in all caps because it was a point that came up over and over again. It was weird to me that people would race into a roundabout. But honestly, as long as they aren't cutting you off, that's not so wrong after all.
Trooper Batiste says to properly enter a roundabout, treat it the same way you would any regular merging situation: The folks already in the roundabout are the ones with the right-of-way. So it's up to YOU to yield and decide when to enter safely.
Roundabout Rule #3: Do you need to use your blinker in a roundabout? The short answer: No. The longer answer, from Trooper Batiste, is that the law states you must use your turn indicator for at least 100 feet prior to changing lanes or making a turn. The fact that roundabouts aren't big enough to accommodate that means technically you don't have to use your blinker in them. But, she adds, it is definitely helpful and courteous if you do.
As for changing lanes in multiple-lane roundabouts, just keep an eye out on the lines. Just like in regular traffic, a solid line means don't change lanes; a dotted line means go ahead.
Roundabout Rule #4: Get out of a roundabout safely by making sure you're in the correct lane. This can be solved if you entered the roundabout correctly by paying attention to the signs. No one likes that jerk who is in the center of a roundabout and suddenly veers across to exit in front of everyone else. Don't be that jerk.
Roundabout Bonus Rule #5: I also asked Trooper Batiste about those smaller "roundabouts" we see in some of the more residential areas. Some neighborhoods have those small circular patches instead of four-way stops; and technically, we can apply the same rules to those that we do here in the larger roundabouts.
Truly, the most important rule for all of us to remember seems to be the "who yields to whom and when" rule. Just remember if you aren't already in the roundabout, you don't have the right-of-way, and no one is under any obligation to slow down and let you in. Think of it like double-dutch jump roping: The cars in the circle are just going to keep going until you decide to jump in safely and go for it.