Roundabouts and the Learner Driver
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» Roundabouts and Learner Drivers (you are here)
Roundabouts can be intimidating to learners !
Experienced drivers usually prefer roundabouts to traffic lights as they feel that roundabouts don't hold them up as much, and this is largely true although traffic lights do handle some situations better, especially in very heavy traffic.
However to cope at roundabouts in heavy traffic, drivers must make a fast decision to go or not go, and then act on that decision promptly - hesitation can not only mean losing an opportunity to enter the roundabout, learner drivers are in danger of entering too late and colliding.
Experienced drivers tend to forget how hard it is for learners to make fast decisions and get a car (even an automatic) moving into the traffic flow quickly and reliably when under pressure.
So don't take your learner to busy roundabouts until they can get a manual car moving off the line reliably without stalling, and when they've had enough experience to have a reasonable chance of handling the situation safely.
And please, do ASSIST them! It is your legal obligation as an accompanying driver.
Helping learners to avoid common mistakes
Approach at a safe speed
Remember that your learner needs more time than you do to assess the situation when approaching a roundabout.
Encourage the learner to look ahead and plan, make sure they approach at a suitable speed especially if there is traffic at or in the roundabout, and if the view of traffic approaching the roundabout from other directions is obstructed by fences, trees etc.
Giving way - don't "assume"!
A mistake made by learners - and experienced drivers too - is to assume that a vehicle on a roundabout not signalling to leave (a common occurrence), is going to leave the roundabout before they reach you.
The situation on the right is a typical example ...
The blue car is assuming that the yellow car entering the roundabout is turning right and will leave the roundabout at point (1), even though it is not signalling to leave.
However it is possible that the yellow car is intending to do a legal U-turn & leave at point (2), and a collision could occur.
So make sure your learner driver is always prepared for this situation and don't trust any vehicle in a roundabout which isn't signalling !
Stopping at the line
Make sure the learner stops right at the give way line (but not over it!) when it is necessary to stop.
In the left hand lane, stopping back behind the line will allow cars on your right to block vision of approaching traffic, and in all cases it will take longer to actually enter the roundabout, significantly reducing the safety margin.
The car should be "aimed" towards the correct lane while waiting to go - see (4) below.
Using the wrong lane
Typical reasons why learners enter the roundabout in the wrong lane or change lanes inside it are:
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