Many learner drivers find them quite confusing and many suffer from rising anxiety as they approach one of the many roundabouts in the BR3 area.
In this article, we hope to try to simplify the learning process by breaking it down into chunks and hopefully, help you gain some confidence.
Position On Approach to The Roundabout
The initial position on approach will determine whether you have a good or bad entrance to the roundabout itself. Generally, in our experience, if you start well, you’ll finish well. So getting this first step right is important.
Which Lane Should You Be in For Roundabout?
Many learner drivers find this very confusing. However, try to draw on your previous experiences on the road. You will be surprised to find that many of the junctions you have dealt with up till this point, indicate where you should be on the roundabout.
For example, if you look at the image to the right, imagine you are turning left or driving straight on. Which lane would you be in general? The answer is, you would generally be in the left lane (as long as there are no signs or markings indicating otherwise.)
If you were turning right, you would generally be in the right lane. So this is something that most learner drivers should be able to relate to as many would have tackled a few traffic light situations up to this point.
So now, we can tie this back to the roundabouts.
Let’s have a look at one of the most dreaded roundabouts in Beckenham first.
The Chinese Roundabout
The Chinese roundabout was designed in 1926 by Architect, Edmund B Clarke¹, is named after a petrol garage that was built sometime in the late 1920s in the style of traditional Chinese architecture.
This roundabout has four exits and is often disliked due to the fact that it is busy. However, as we stated before if you start well, you’ll tend to finish well.
Remembering what we have just talked about with the use of our traffic lights experience, we will use the same routine here.
As you can see pictured to the left is the fore-mentioned roundabout.
We have colour coded the different lanes and different directions in which they lead off.
Turning Left At The Roundabout
To turn left (1st exit) at the roundabout, you would check your mirrors and signal left. Generally keeping to the left lane on approach and give way to the right.
You can see in the picture the yellow line keeps to the left and leads off the roundabout to the left side.
Straight-on At The Roundabout
For going straight on (2nd exit) you would check your mirrors on approach but would not signal. After giving way to the right, once entering you will keep to the left (outside) of the roundabout allowing space for any cars they may be on your right-hand side to also use the roundabout simultaneously.
Once you have passed the exit before the one you want, you will check your mirrors and signal left just before you exit the roundabout.
You can see in the picture the purple line keeps to the left and follows around the roundabout on the outside to the left side leaving the inside of the roundabout free for other road users.
Turning Right At The Roundabout
For turning right, you will check your mirrors and signal right and keep to the right on approach. After giving way to the right, once entering, you will stay on the inside of the roundabout and then will check your mirrors and signal left to come off the roundabout after you have passed the exit before the one you want.
You can see in the picture the red line (3rd exit) and the blue line (4th exit) keep to the right respectively and follows around the roundabout on the inside to the right side leaving the outside of the roundabout free for other road users.
Let’s now look at another Beckenham roundabout.
Central Beckenham Odeon Roundabout
For the roundabout next to the Beckenham Odeon cinema, we will need to slightly adjust the way we do it due to the fact that it is a funny shape and the exits are a little offset.
For the left 1st exit, we follow the same principle as before and come off as shown in the yellow line on the picture to the right.
For straight-on second exit, we will use the same principle except for this time, our position on approach will change.
On the picture to the right, you will see we have marked a “12” and a “6”. Think of these numbers like a clock face.
If, say, your 2nd exit was at or before 12 o’clock, then you would keep to the left as you go round the roundabout similar to what we just spoke about at the Chinese roundabout.
But, if the exit is past 12 o’clock as shown in the picture on the right, then we will have to change what we do slightly.
You are coming out of exit “6”, however, your exit is passed 12 o’clock (it’s more like a 1 or 2 o’clock angle), therefore you would be better off staying to the right as you enter and peel off as you get to around the 12 mark to the left.
Sometimes roadsigns can give you a clue as to the layout of the roundabout so you can prepare on approach.
Remember to check your mirrors and signal to the left just before you come off.
This adjusted way of taking the second exit on this particular roundabout would be valid for all entrances from all sides of the roundabout due to the funny shape.
For turning right 3rd exit, it would be the same routine as mentioned before.
Mirror then signal right on approach, then keep on the inside, mirror and signal off to the left just before you come off at the exit you want.
Langley Park Roundabout
This example is coming from West Wickham and heading off back towards Beckenham
The roundabout near Langley Park school is a mixture of both the Chinese and Central Beckenham roundabouts.
How you position on approach will depend on which side you are approaching from.
Again, we stick to what we have just learned above.
If the second exit is at or before 12 o’clock, we will stay on the outside of the roundabout.
If it is past 12 then we will keep to the inside.
From Beckenham and heading towards West Wickham or Shirley
If you are coming from Beckenham and heading towards West Wickham or Shirley, then you will need to adjust your position accordingly as shown in the final picture (right).
Roundabouts are truly one of the trickiest aspects of learning to drive. You will likely spend many lessons going over and over them in order to get enough practice and experience.
There are many aspects and nuances when it comes to dealing with roundabouts on your driving lessons and in all honesty, it’s far more than can be covered in one article.
Ready To Learn More?
If you would like to learn more about roundabouts and how to deal with them confidently and effectively, check out our premium Online Driving Lessons page.
You will find tons of useful videos, that go into detail about every aspect of roundabouts from how to position, what to look for, how to look, decide and act, when to enter and much more.