The right way ’round

This item appears on page 12 of the February 2011 issue.
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I agree with those who reassure travelers that driving here in the UK — on the left-hand side of the road — is not too difficult (“Embrace Left-side Driving,” March ’10, pg. 52). I would add one warning concerning our roundabouts: whilst the official line is to give way to traffic on the roundabout, the practice is that we give way to traffic approaching from the right.

Hence, if you are stationary at the entrance to a roundabout and see someone approaching from your right, whether or not within the roundabout, GIVE WAY unless that vehicle is some distance away. That driver will assume he/she has right of way if allowing you to move out would involve their slowing down.

On single-lane roads, roundabouts often are no more than a circle (possibly raised a little) marked in the centre of the intersection, but on dual carriageways (and those with three or four lanes) they can be hundreds of feet ’round, usually with an “island” in the middle, which may be planted with shrubs or flowers.

On the very large ones, it is simply a matter of looking to your right to see if any driver is coming around toward you or across lanes toward you and would need to brake to avoid a collision with you if you pulled out.

Within the larger roundabouts, most drivers use their left turn indicator to show that they intend to use the next exit and their right when they are continuing ’round. There may be no use of indicators, however, if the intention is to continue down the road straight ahead, particularly if this is perceived to be the main flow of traffic.

Drivers in the UK have two major bad habits. 1) We do not expect to ease up if we are approaching a roundabout and there are no vehicles on it but only one or more waiting on our left; we would probably ease for something waiting on our right. 2) A stream of two, three or more cars will tend to act as if linked together like a train. What the first one does, the others will do too! This even happens if the first car crosses a traffic light on amber; the next one or two will then cross on red, so beware.

Are you planning to visit London and need any help or information? Write to me c/o ITN.

After my last letter was printed (“Transiting London,” Aug. ’09, pg. 15), I chatted or corresponded with a number of ITN readers and had the pleasure of meeting some of them in Kew Gardens. I can also be contacted via e-mail c/o ITN.

PATRICK ERRICKER, West Wimbledon, London, U.K

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I agree with those who reassure travelers that driving here in the UK — on the left-hand side of the road — is not too difficult (“Embrace Left-side Driving,” March ’10, pg. 52). I would add one warning concerning our roundabouts: whilst the official line is to give way to traffic on the roundabout, the practice is that we give way to traffic approaching from the right.

Hence, if you are stationary at the entrance to a roundabout and see someone approaching from your right, whether or not within the roundabout, GIVE WAY unless that vehicle is some distance away. That driver will assume he/she has right of way if allowing you to move out would involve their slowing down.

On single-lane roads, roundabouts often are no more than a circle (possibly raised a little) marked in the centre of the intersection, but on dual carriageways (and those with three or four lanes) they can be hundreds of feet ’round, usually with an “island” in the middle, which may be planted with shrubs or flowers.

On the very large ones, it is simply a matter of looking to your right to see if any driver is coming around toward you or across lanes toward you and would need to brake to avoid a collision with you if you pulled out.

Within the larger roundabouts, most drivers use their left turn indicator to show that they intend to use the next exit and their right when they are continuing ’round. There may be no use of indicators, however, if the intention is to continue down the road straight ahead, particularly if this is perceived to be the main flow of traffic.

Drivers in the UK have two major bad habits. 1) We do not expect to ease up if we are approaching a roundabout and there are no vehicles on it but only one or more waiting on our left; we would probably ease for something waiting on our right. 2) A stream of two, three or more cars will tend to act as if linked together like a train. What the first one does, the others will do too! This even happens if the first car crosses a traffic light on amber; the next one or two will then cross on red, so beware.

Are you planning to visit London and need any help or information? Write to me c/o ITN.

After my last letter was printed (“Transiting London,” Aug. ’09, pg. 15), I chatted or corresponded with a number of ITN readers and had the pleasure of meeting some of them in Kew Gardens. I can also be contacted via e-mail c/o ITN.

PATRICK ERRICKER, West Wimbledon, London, U.K