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Mini roundabout 101: How to use them

You would think a mini roundabouts are straightforward, but you would be wrong. Here is what you are meant to do, so you can ‘accidentally’ share it with friends and family who struggle.

The roundabout is one of the greatest inventions ever known. Think about it, it serves an incredibly useful purpose and most people instinctively know how to use them.

But a mini roundabout – also circular – is a bit of an Achilles heel. Some motorists adopt very different methods when using them and the results can be frightening. Proper life and death stuff.

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So Recombu Cars put its sensible hat on for a second to provide you with exactly what you are meant to do when confronted with a small round marking in the road.

How do I use a mini roundabout?

The same way you use a big roundabout. Traffic coming from the right has right of way unless otherwise directed by signs, road markings or traffic lights. Be mindful of any cars in front as well as whatever is coming from the right to avoid a pile-up.

So when do I need to signal on a mini roundabout?

These rules are the same for large roundabouts so it is worth knowing them. It is easy to get into bad habits so there is nothing wrong with a bit of a refresher, courtesy of the Highway Code.

First exit: You should approach in the left hand lane (if there is more than one lane) and keep to the left on the roundabout and signal left.

Exit to the right or full circle: Signal right and approach the exit in the right hand lane if there is more than one lane. Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to reach your chosen exit. Signal left but only after you have passed the exit before the one you want to take.

Intermediate exit: Select the appropriate lane on approach to the roundabout. Stay in left lane until you need to alter your lane to exit. Signal left before the exit you want to take but after the one before to avoid creating confusion.

It is worth noting that, because of the size of a mini roundabout, the intermediate or secondary exit does not require a signal as it is pretty obvious where you are going. But adhere to the rest of the advice above.

So mini roundabouts are dead easy?

Actually, no. The rules are the same but mini roundabouts tend to be in built up areas where there are more hazards. That means the level of observation needs to be more intense and this is especially true of a closed or ‘blind’ roundabout where it is difficult to see approaching traffic.

Yes, roundabouts are a form of junction and so you get open and closed mini roundabouts. The simple rule is that the more difficult it is to see approaching traffic  from the right, the slower your approach should be.

To keep your speed low in a manual, you should be confident with stopping and starting and know what gear to drop to at the speed you plan to take (typically second for slow and 1st for crawling). With an automatic you need to worry about the brakes and steering.

If there is a succession of cars coming from the right, come to a halt before the mini roundabout. If waiting for more than five seconds or so, apply the handbrake and select first so you quickly move when it is safe to do so.

What about a double mini roundabout?

We have seen triple mini roundabout setups that Einstein would find difficult to fathom at first glance. The trick is to keep your approach speed low, relax and apply the rules above to each mini roundabout as it comes.

Can I U-turn on a mini roundabout?

Technically yes, but it is advised against because some cars may struggle to make it round them in one go, especially if really small or you own a Ford Focus. You are usually better off finding somewhere else to spin around.

If you really must, indicate right and keep your approach speed low. Other motorists will most likely expect you to take the third or right exit when signalling as a full turn is less common so bear take it steady.

Can I stop at a mini roundabout?

No, unless in an emergency or told to. If a car is approaching from the left you should be cautious, but to stop on a mini roundabout is dangerous because you could cause a rear collision and make life more dangerous for a car following behind.

Can I overtake a cyclist on a mini roundabout?

Technically it is legal, but the less you have to worry about on a mini roundabout the better. Cyclists lack the metal cocoon you have and may lack basic Highway Code knowledge so give them space to do what they need to do.

Before anyone accuses us of being rude about cyclists, a good driver should assume all other road users are idiots (not just cyclists) because to do that means you are pre-empting the worst and have more chance of avoiding it.

Are mini roundabouts always obvious?

A blue sign may be located before a mini roundabout, but not all the time so keep your eyes peeled. If you are doing 30mph or 20mph in an urban area you should have time to read the road ahead and react in a timely fashion so it is a non-issue anyway.

Can I drive over a mini roundabout?

Rule 188 of the Highway Code says ‘all vehicles must pass around the central markings’. The only exceptions are ‘large vehicles which are physically incapable of doing so’ such as an articulated lorry or bus.

Got any other questions about mini roundabouts? Let us know in the comments.

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