Roundabouts fair play

Correct procedures not common knowledge to many drivers
By: Megan Wood The Press-Tribune
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When Robert Frost wrote about coming to a fork in the road, what resulted went into the annals of classic American poetry. If that fork had been a roundabout on the streets of Roseville, his final writing may have been more chaotic than poetic. According to Janna Cervantes, associate engineer for Roseville’s public works department, there are eight roundabouts throughout Roseville, including two on private property at the Fountains and Galleria mall. While there have not been any reported incidents of car accidents because of drivers not knowing the correct procedures of driving in a roundabout, there’s no shortage of complaints. “Roundabouts are very common in Europe but relatively new to the United States,” said Henning Mortensen, owner and driving instructor for Bond Driving School. “Because they aren’t very common, many drivers, especially older drivers, aren’t sure how to properly drive a roundabout.” According to Mortensen, many drivers who have received their license within the last 15 years are well versed when it comes to roundabouts because the procedure is commonly taught in driver’s education classes. “It is always something we go over in the classroom with a visual diagram and instruction,” Mortensen said. “If a roundabout is available in the area, we will cover it again behind the wheel.” Mortensen said roundabouts have become more predominant in cities since they reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, as they require vehicles to slow down rather than come to a complete stop. “Another point of roundabouts is to reduce right-angle collisions, which are a common incident at major intersections,” Cervantes said. Mortensen said that approaching a roundabout is similar to a four-way stop with a stop sign. Cars in the circle have the right-of-way followed by the first approaching vehicle. The difference with a roundabout is that drivers don’t need to stop before entering. They should yield to the other cars that are in the circle. After yielding to other vehicles, traffic should be kept flowing by merging into the circle traveling counterclockwise. The speed limit in most roundabouts is 15 miles per hour. Debbie Littlejohn is a regular shopper at the Galleria. She said she’s used to maneuvering the roundabouts but understands it can be a bit daunting at first. “It can be very sketchy. You have to watch everyone else and that can be very nerve-wracking,” Littlejohn, a Shingle Springs resident, said. “I think they’re easy, there’s really nothing to it,” said Cynthia Coger, a Sun City resident. “The traffic only goes one way, just keep moving and drive slowly.” Once inside the roundabout, Mortensen advises maintaining a safe speed and continue around the circle until the point of exit. At this point it is necessary to signal your intentions to other drivers and exit the circle smoothly. Again, there is no need to stop before entering or exiting a roundabout. “If you miss your exit, don’t stop and panic,” said Sanchia Spandow, a London native who now resides in Sun City. “Just go around again. Remember it’s a circle.”