Driving Safely on Roundabouts

By August 29, 2017Blog, News

A learner driver once asked his driving instructor to explain the roundabout lane rules to him.  His instructor said “It’s very simple.  “Think of the roundabout as a clock”.  “If you’re exiting before 12 o’clock, take up a position in the left lane”. “After 12 o’clock, take up a position in the right lane”.  The learner appeared confused and though to himself for a few seconds before saying “So in the morning, I take the left lane and in the afternoon, I take the right lane??”.

Motorist sometimes interpret the rules of the road in very different ways.  However, to drive safely on the road as motorists we need to firstly interpret the rules correctly and secondly be conscious of the fact that other motorist may have a different understanding of the rules.  Roundabouts are a traffic control that generates much discussion and debate among Irish Motorists.

In a recent publication by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) “Roundabouts, Using the Correct Lane”, the ‘golden rule’ is outlined to help motorists drive safely at any roundabout regardless of the number of exits.  The RSA state that motorist should think of the roundabout as a clock:

  • If taking any exit from the 6 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position, motorists should generally approach in the left-hand lane.
  • If taking any exit between the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock positions, motorists should generally approach in the right-hand lane.


If there are road markings showing you what lane you should be in, follow those directions. Traffic conditions might sometimes mean you have to take a different approach but, in the main, the ‘golden rule’ will help you to drive safely on almost any roundabout.

Motorists must be very observant and ensure they read the signs and observe the road markings on their approach to a roundabout (particularly if you are driving in an unfamiliar area). Local Authorities and the NRA have been using lane arrows and road signs to direct traffic into particular lanes and manage traffic at roundabouts.  For example, a very common change is to direct motorists travelling straight on (12 o’clock) to take up position in the right-hand lane.  This leaves the left lane exclusively for motorist turning left.  This allows traffic to flow more freely at roundabouts where the majority of motorists are leaving at the first two exits.

As motorists, we use our indicators to “indicate an intention” to make a manoeuvre to the left or right.  Therefore, it is important to use indicators approaching and when on roundabouts at the right time to inform other motorists of our intentions.  Remember an indicator does not give you the Right of Way.

The RSA leaflet “Roundabouts, Using the Correct Lane” outlines the following guidelines:

  • Making a left turn (First Exit), indicate ‘left’ as you approach and continue to indicate until you have taken the left exit.
  • Making a left turn (second exit), indicate ‘left’ once you’ve passed the first exit and continue to indicate until you have taken the second exit.
  • Going Straight ahead (12 o’clock), do not indicate ‘left’ until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take.
  • Making a Right Turn (exit after 12 o’clock), approach in the righthand lane (unless road markings say otherwise), indicate ‘right ‘on your approach to the roundabout and leave your right indicator on as you drive around the roundabout until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take. Then change to the ‘left’ turn indicator.

If you have any further questions or queries don’t hesitate to call into to the Swilly Group office on Business Park Road in Letterkenny, give us a call on 074-9151212 or email us on info@swillygroup.com.

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