Learning to Drive: Roundabouts (1/2)

Jamie Daly -
Learning to Drive: Roundabouts (1/2) img

Part 9 of the Learning to Drive series, Roundabouts.

There are many tricks to make you better at using them. It’s quite a hefty subject to discuss and it’s why we’re splitting it into Two Parts – see bottom of article for part 2

Learning to Drive : How Roundabouts Help

Roundabouts can be one of the most daunting things when you’re learning to drive. They may look wild and unstructured but they are in fact designed to improve the flow of traffic.

Imagine you have a busy junction, where car after car drives by on the main road, leaving those on the minor road unable to emerge. A roundabout is a way to keep everyone moving, regardless of the direction they want to go, by constantly changing right of way.

Key Rules

Give way to the right – When entering a roundabout, you must allow cars coming from the right to pass.

Indicate your intention – Indicate before you enter the roundabout, telling other drivers which exit you intend to take. Indicate left when you intend to disembark.

Position your car – Unless a filter lane tells you otherwise, position left for the first exit. Position centre or left (depending on the available space) for exits after the first exit up until the road ahead. Position right for exits after the road ahead (the exit directly opposite the road you’re entering).

Stay in lane – Stay within the lane markings on the road and avoid exiting your lane, unless you follow the correct procedure (there will be more on this in Roundabouts 2/2).

If you miss your opportunity or do not feel safe entering the roundabout, don’t.

If you are at a roundabout and there is a flow of traffic coming from the right, you will have to wait. When a free space appears and it is safe to enter, do so.

Note: Enter the roundabout swiftly but not rashly! If

Entering and Exiting a Roundabout

ENTERING – There are 4 main components for ‘entering’ a roundabout:

  1. Look right and wait until approaching traffic is clear
  2. Indicate which exit you wish to take
  3. Remain in the lane you have chosen
  4. Position yourself in the correct lane

CIRCLING – If there are no filter lanes indicating where to position your car, when you want to use the first exit or an exit up until the road ahead, you should drive closer to the outside edge of the roundabout. When you want to use an exit after the road ahead, drive closer to the centre of the roundabout.

EXITING – There are 2 main components for ‘exiting’ a roundabout:

  1. Indicate left when you want to exit the roundabout. We suggest indicating as you finish passing the exit just before. For example, if you want to use exit three, indicate as you finish passing exit two.
  2. Check your centre mirror to see what cars behind you are doing, as well as your left wing mirror to see if any cars are attempting to pass you.
Note: When learning to drive, your instructor will probably refer to exits numerically. For example, an instruction they may give you could be “Enter the roundabout and take the 3rd exit”. This means enter the roundabout and disembark using the third available exit, as you circle.


If you’re still slightly confused about where you should be indicating before entering a roundabout, this diagram will hopefully clarify things. Imagine a roundabout has three sections. Each section requires you to use a different indicator before entering the roundabout.

Green Exits – require a left Indicator before entering the Roundabout. Used when you intend to take the First Exit(the exit immediately to your left, upon entering).

Blue Exits – require no indicator before entering the roundabout. Used when you intend to take any exit after the 1st exit and up to the road ahead.

Red Exits – require the right indicator before entering the roundabout. Used when you intend to take any exit after the road ahead.

On smaller roundabouts it is easier to see what indicator you should use. However, on larger roundabouts that have Multiple Exits or large Central Reservations, it can be harder to tell.

In this case, use road signs to help you decide what indicator to use before entering the roundabout.

Lanes & Road Markings

You may find, particularly on bigger roundabouts, that multiple lanes have the same directional arrows. In this case, pay attention to any further markings shown on the road, such as words or lettering. This will provide better clarification about which lane you should be in.

Your instructor may give you an instruction like “Head straight and take the 3rd exit towards Barnet”.

It is unlikely your instructor would take you on such a difficult roundabout as a learner. However, after you pass, you may encounter these types of roundabouts and need to be ready for them.

Next time we will be continuing with roundabouts, providing you with some perfect techniques to try in your own time.