Southern Utah Driving 101: How to safely navigate roundabouts; video

ST. GEORGE – Some drivers view roundabouts as just another intersection, with yield signs and an eye-catching centerpiece. But for others, these confusing circles are the among the last things they want to encounter on the road.

Roundabout at Main Street and Tabernacle Street, St. George, Utah, Aug. 25, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Indeed, roundabouts have their fair share of critics. But the Federal Highway Administration has found that nationwide, roundabouts contribute to a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, a 76 percent reduction in injuries and a 35 percent reduction in all crashes over traditional intersections. They also create safer travel for cyclists and pedestrians due to reduced speeds and eliminate the congestion stop signs and traffic lights can cause.

“Roundabouts are actually very safe,” St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. “However, for those drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who don’t understand them, that lack of knowledge is probably the most dangerous thing about roundabouts.”

Drivers should follow a series of basic traffic safety rules when dealing with roundabouts. Yielding the right-of-way is crucial. Yield signs and street markings are posted at the entrances of all roundabouts, near the designated crosswalks. When pulling up to a roundabout, drivers need to look to their left. If any vehicles are approaching, they must come to a complete stop at the yield line until those vehicles pass and the way is clear. If no vehicles are approaching, they can roll through the yield line and drive on.

“It’s not hard,” SGPD Sgt. Craig Harding said. “I don’t know why people find them so difficult.”

Compiling information from the St. George Police Department, the Federal Highway Administration, the 2013 Utah Drivers’ Handbook and the Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office, STGnews presents Southern Utah drivers with Eight Simple Rules for Safely Navigating a Roundabout.

1. Slow down. Obey the posted speed limit, which is usually 15 miles per hour.
2. Watch for cyclists and pedestrians. If cyclists are in the roundabout, view them as a vehicle and yield if necessary. If cyclists or pedestrians are in the crosswalk, yield without exception.
3. Always yield to any traffic approaching from the left and do not enter the roundabout unless the way is clear.
4. Signal when entering and exiting the roundabout.
5. Stay in your lane.
6. Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles.
7. Never stop once you enter the roundabout.
8. Don’t be distracted. Keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and focus on driving responsibly.

Roundabout at Interstate 15's Exit 4, St. George, Utah, Aug. 31, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Roundabout at Interstate 15’s Exit 4, St. George, Utah, Aug. 31, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

While the responsibility of safe travel through a roundabout falls mainly on drivers, cyclists and pedestrians must also abide by their own unique rules. Cyclists have two options in a roundabout: They can travel through it like a vehicle and must follow the same traffic regulations, or they can use the crosswalks like a pedestrian. Pedestrians can only use the crosswalks.

“Like any other intersection, drivers, cyclists and/or pedestrians need to pay attention to each other when entering a roundabout, and individuals negotiating a roundabout need to yield properly,” City of St. George Transportation Services Manager Cameron Cutler said. “Please be aware, follow the laws and regulations associated with traveling in the roadways and be courteous.”

Stay safe, STGnews friends!

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Email: avmorgan@stgnews.com
Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Roundabout at Center Street and 200 East, Ivins, Utah, Sept. 2, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Roundabout at Center Street and 200 East, Ivins, Utah, Sept. 2, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

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9 Comments

  • Betty September 13, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Nicely done! I’m thrilled y’all took my suggestion; make a video and post it to YouTube. Now, the city of St. George should pin this to their website and maybe even have the utility departments (Washington, St. George, Escalante, etc…) put a note on the utility bills on where to locate this video. In fact, the Chamber of Commerce can pin to their websites as well.

  • ScottRAB September 13, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Well written article.

    The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly_6lWM ).
    Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit http://tinyurl.com/iihsRAB for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA, http://tinyurl.com/7qvsaem

  • Be Kind September 13, 2013 at 11:36 am

    My problem are the people who will stop in the middle of the roundabout and shake their heads at you and you did not do a darn thing wrong. It is a no brainer to yield on the left and let those people go by. I had one old lady actually stop in front of my car, she was in the roundabout and shake her head and finger at me. I let her through and i stopped in back of the white line. I don’t know what her problem was, but she was not very nice in her big caddie and her attitude. I think we all need this lesson thanks for posting this.

  • HORSE PUCKEY September 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    If roundabouts are safer than “normal” intersections, it is only because of the confused people, (I am one of them,) that has to slow down to a crawl to figure the thing out. Time saver? HORSE PUCKEY. No way.
    Just “yield to the vehicle on your left?” Every other intersection that is not controlled by a stop sign or traffic signal, you yield for the first person at the intersection. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, you yield to the vehicle on the right!
    Look at how semis have to deal with these darn things. I must be a nightmare for their drivers. Maybe there is an occasional road design that is so poor, that a roundabout is the only solution. But in the majority of the cases, all it is, is the latest fad for local governments.
    There should be a federal law that flatly outlaws all roundabouts. And the idiots that design them should be put in prison for life.
    Now then, would like me to tell you how I REALLY feel about roundabouts?

    • Craig September 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      You’re not confused. The signage at the roundie in Bloomington near Wally’s is a pain in the a z z.

  • phil thum September 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    article way over due, southern Utah badly needs ’roundabout’ education. To many people don’t
    get the idea about yielding , don’t care if another car is in the circle …. they just go for it.
    The county needs a major public info campaign on driving and approaching a roundabout.
    Another major area of driver education needed is for older drivers making left and right turns at major
    intersections. To many confused drivers think its correct to wait till the light turns yellow and then
    quickly make there left turn. And still to many sit in a right turn lane waiting for the light to turn green
    so that they can make their right turn .

    • Confused Driver September 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Phil, you say, “To many confused drivers think its correct to wait till the light turns yellow and then quickly make there left turn.” I’m confused as to what you think is the “correct” way to make a left turn in an intersection that has no left turn arrows, (or does not have them operating,) in heavy traffic. Please educate me?
      You also say, “And still to many sit in a right turn lane waiting for the light to turn green so that they can make their right turn .” What I see, a whole lot more than that, is people who don’t bother to stop, or even to look, before making a “right turn on red.” They seem to treat the Right Turn on Red law, as if it gives them the right of way over through drivers.
      I wholeheartedly agree with you that we could use some serious driver education, (or re-education,) here!

      • Confused Driver September 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

        Seriously, phil, how about answering my questions?

  • Josh Dalton September 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I am glad to see that everyone who posted is in touch with reality! Of course the picture in the article is of the least driven round-a-bout in town. I bet if they snapped a picture of the Bloomington or Main Street round-a-bout, they would have had a picture of somebody driving the incorrect direction or failing to yield. Its terrible the way people drive through those things. I am very suprise some of our tenured residents have not been killed yet attempting to navigate our round-a-bouts.

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