Give way to the Right returns !

Submitted: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:00
ThreadID: 68553 Views:3098 Replies:16 FollowUps:27
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Interesting, isn't it, how things seem to come around in circles ?

After becoming curious about why almost every driver happily breaks the roundabout rules (in NSW, anyway), I decided to do some research, with these somewhat startling results:

Of 10 work colleagues, 9 said the rule is to 'give way to vehicles approaching the roundabout from the right', the other said he suspected the rule was different, but he still gave way to the right. These people were mainly under 30 years old so, becoming interested in what they were taught I asked 4 commercial driving instructors, with even more interesting answers:

All said they taught all their students to give way to the right, despite the fact that the rules state something quite different, and that they taught their students to answer the theory questions with the correct rule, which is:

"When approaching a roundabout, slow down and prepare to give way to other vehicles approaching or in the roundabout"

A definition of 'in the roundabout' was harder to find, but a police comment was 'when any part of the vehicle is over the dotted line'.

So we now have a situation where the road rule is completely different from the way it is applied. I know in my local area people approching from the right on a roundabout don't slow down at all, usually speed up, and certainly assume right of way over all vehicles to their left.

I suspect the intended purpose of roundabouts is to smooth traffic flow, and in heavy traffic a vehicle should probably be 'allowed' through from each direction in turn. However, this relies on courteous and unselfish driving, both of which are in rather short supply (in NSW, anyway)

To correct this very strange situation, I wonder if we'll see the rule changed (back) to giving way to the right at all intersections other than at traffic lights ?

Does anyone know how roundabouts work (or don't) in other countries where people drive less aggressively ?
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Reply By: Member - Smiley Bill - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:17

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:17
Hi Nic I,

"When approaching a roundabout, slow down and prepare to give way to other vehicles approaching or in the roundabout".

I would imagine that any vehicles approaching you in a round-a-bout would be on your right. If a vehicle on your left as you approached a r.a.b. snuck in ahead of you and was indicating with its right turn signal, if there was no danger of a collision i assume you would continue through when safe.

There is roadlaw, which is written on paper, and there is roadcraft which happens everyday out in the real world. In a perfect world we would all follow the law and be on our way but unfortunately this is not possible.

R.a.bs are designed for an entry speed no greater than 40 k.p.h., and that is for the bigger ones, but people approach them too quickly. This is where the trouble starts.

SB
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Follow Up By: Member - Smiley Bill - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:22

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:22
p.s.

The give way to the right rule has never disappeared, eg if the traffic lights at a cross intersection fail that is the rule you fall back on.

There are also "uncontrolled intersections" to deal with as well, this is what regulates them (bit of an oxy-moron that, uncontrolled but it still has a rule covering the situation).

SB
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:32

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:32
"If a vehicle on your left as you approached a r.a.b. snuck in ahead of you and was indicating with its right turn signal, if there was no danger of a collision i assume you would continue through when safe."

Yes, I agree, but the law supports right of way for the vehicle approaching from the left, regardless of where it's intending to turn, as long as it gets into the roundabout first. However, try this in real life and the vehicle from the right will proably run straight into you, because they're assuming right of way.

Another thing from my research was that the police I spoke to (3 friends of friends) said they only cared what the law was when there had been a crash in a roundabout, which is pretty much the only time the police become involved. When that happens they apply the law - if you hit someone already in a roundabout, regardless of their direction of origin, you're at fault. Insurance companies also support this.
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Follow Up By: Ino - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:53

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:53
Well... that's a really good question. The other day I was entering a really small roundabout, and I already was past the dotted line when an in-duh-vidual came tearing down the path from the next entry point on my left. That was a really near miss.

According to the guys in my car - I should've given way. Now - I understand the concept of "give way to insanity", but legally - I was in the roundabout - and I was supposed to have been given way.

Once upon a time - in a different country where they drive on the other side, the rules for the roundabouts were absolutely insane. Such as : those in the roundabout have to give way to those entering it. Whisky Tango Foxtrot?! Please engage brain.

Ino!~
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Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 11:55

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 11:55
"those in the roundabout have to give way to those entering it".

The above is a very interesting concept.

The R.A.B around the "Arc de Triomphe" in Paris is a perfect practical example of why this doesn't work (for anyone who can't imagine the chaos.)

Peter
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 12:55

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 12:55
The "give way to the right" rule died with the introduction of the major/minor road rule. You will find that where you have to give way to people on your right it is part of another rule, not the give way to the right rule. This may sound Irish but get used to it. Forget the give way to the right rule and learn the new ones. You may consider it technical, or nit picking, but you may not be able to apply the new rules unless you know and understand them.

The latest copy of the rules I can find are Australian Road Rules Download a copy and search it to see if you can find "give way to the right."
PeterD
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 13:21

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 13:21
Thanks for that, Nomadic Navara. The point of my thread (which I may have made very badly, sorry) is that there is in fact no 'give way to the right' rule, as you've noted, but everyone I see (myself included) approaches roundabouts as though there IS such a rule.
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 14:31

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 14:31
I'm sorry Nomadic Navara but the Give Way to the Right rule is still alive and well and can be found in the Australian Road Rules very visible in Part 7, Division 2 which deals with intersections without traffic lights or controlling signage. Here is an actual cut-and-paste of just one of the multiple expressions: "the driver must give way to any vehicle approaching from the right".

Yes NN, you gave good advice about knowing and understanding the rules............ try taking your own advice!



Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: joe99 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:31

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:31
Hi
Where did the "correct" rule you quote come from? In particular the word "approaching" which would be quite a significant in interpreting the rule.

In
RTA document
under the heading "GIVING WAY" it says "You must give way to all vehicles, including bicycles, already on the roundabout. So slow down or stop if necessary. Only enter when there is a safe gap."

Around here, what happens in practice is exactly what you describe. At one roundabout (which is effectively a T intersection), vehicles on the "through" road, routinely charge through (often driving over the central island) with no thought to giving way to vehicles on their left on the stem of the T, even if they have their nose over the line.

I cannot quote a reference, but I seem to recall someone in authority telling me that the RTA does not use the term "right of way" in respect of any vehicle. There are many situations where a driver is obliged to "give way", but if he fails to do so, the other driver still has a duty to avoid a collision.

joe99

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Follow Up By: Nic I - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:39

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:39
I got it from another RTA document, or another section of it. I'll find it and reply with the link.

It doesn't seem to matter much though, as the rule you've quoted is still not adhered to in almost all circumstances I've seen. The driving at the roundabout you mentioned is clearly at odds with the rule, but is increasingly accepted as the norm.

There's a similar roundabout in my area, and at pek times there's a very long queue of vehicles on the 'non-through' road waiting for a gap in the stream from the right.
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 11:43

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 11:43
yeah, Joe99 is quite right....... no Australian Road regulation uses or recognizes the term "Right of Way" they always use the expression that a vehicle must "Give Way". This does not allow for the other vehicle to have right of way.

The laws also require that a vehicle must give way under any circumstances where a collision may occur if they were to proceed. This applies regardless of who is on the right or left or anywhere else!
To proceed when you considered that you had "the right of way" and have a collision when you could have avoided it would make you liable for prosecution!


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Allan

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Follow Up By: Nic I - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 13:03

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 13:03
Sorry, Joe, your quote is spot on. Mine was from one of the driving instructors I queried about this - he has seemingly misquoted the RTA site, or simply got it slightly wrong.
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Reply By: Gronk - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:35

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:35
The rules for a roundabout are simple ...don't hit anyone while on it !!!

If you hit someone and they were coming from your right, then most likely you will be the 1st to be booked, because they will assume you snuck on after the person coming from the right ( whether it was true or not )

People drive less aggressive overseas ???? Have you been to France or Italy ??

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Follow Up By: Nic I - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:41

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:41
Hey Gronk, that's a much better rule - I like it !

As for Italy/France, no - I haven't been there, but I assume they're much worse than here ?
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Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 12:01

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 12:01
I found Italy much worse than France.

The bizarre thing in Italy is that as you go further south their driving becomes more "aggresive".

Peter
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Follow Up By: Ino - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 13:35

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 13:35
Horace,

That aggressive driving is what in other places is commonly known as "drive-by shooting" :)

Ino!~
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Reply By: get outmore - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 14:34

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 14:34
I always thought giving way in a roundabout was simple - give way to to vehicles in the roundabout which will be to your right

if a vehicle which is to your left enters the roundabout before you it is highly unlikely you will need to give way to it because you still have to enter the roundabout then navigate 25% of the roundabout before coming to its position. If someone to your left has entered the roundabout before you and ends up cutting you off it means your driving like an idiot
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:18

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:18
There must be a lot of idiot drivers then, and/or a lot of very small roundabouts ! The one in my area that I mentioned earlier has a stream of cars from the 'through' road on the right, going through the roundabout as fast as they can drive, and 25% of that roundabout is a very small distance.

If you were waiting on the road to the left of this stream and pulled out into the roundabout, the cars in the stream would have to brake very heavily to avoid hitting you, due to a combination of small roundabout and high speed. You'd definitely be 'in the right', but you'd be hit for sure, so people don't do this; instead they 'give way to the right' and wait for a break in the stream. In peak times, this can be a very long time.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 18:43

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 18:43
i dont follow - if there is a stream of cars then a car cannot enter the roundabout until there is a sufficient break in the traffick for them to enter the roundabout before any vehicle to there right - if they enter the roundabout then a speeding vehicle to there right enters the roundabout and happens to catch them due to speed and the fact the other vehicle was starting from a standstill then they must give way and break the only other alternative is to plough into the other vehicles rear end.

anyway obviosly im finding it a bit hard to picture - as there seems to be issues with it it would seem a bad desighn.

i have a fairly busy roundabout at the entrance to my suburb which is a glorified T junction but seems to work ok
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 08:50

Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 08:50
I think the key thing here is what is a 'sufficent break in the traffiic'. Many drivers seem to have no intention of giving way to those on their left, so these breaks can be very small and probably only just big enough to pull into.

However, and I suspect this is what happens with more civilised driving, the ones on the right could (should) slow down and create a break so that the lefties can have their turn and enter. It's very similar to merging lanes in heavy traffic - polite people will let others in; this becomes even more likely as the speeds drop.
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Reply By: gottabjoaken - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:02

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:02
Yes, you give way to a vehicle that is on the roundabout to your right.

That means you do not have to give way to a vehicle waiting or not yet at an entrance on your right, and if you enter the roundabout and that vehicle comes in quickly, and it hits you from behind, you have the very difficult task of proving that you were there before it and in the right (not on the right !!!).

Also be aware that if you are in the right lane of a two lane entry, then you are required (afik) to enter into the middle or right lane of the roundabout. ie. You cannot turn into the left lane in front of another vehicle waiting in the left lane of your entry road.

There are pictures in the how to drive book - ask your kids to pull their copy out of the bin they chucked it in.

Hey, it is all common sense. relax, smell the roses and if there is anyone in the way, avoid them.

Ken
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Reply By: joe99 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:14

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:14
There is another question relating to correct driver behaviour at roundabouts that I have never been able to find an answer to...

Does the following rule (rule 128 of Road Rules 2008)

"A driver must not enter an intersection if the driver cannot drive through the intersection because the intersection, or a road beyond the intersection, is blocked."

apply to roundabouts?

In other words, is a roundabout an intersection or not?

joe99
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew (QLD) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:34

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:34
Rule 109 "A roundabout is an intersection: .........."

Andrew
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Follow Up By: joe99 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:51

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:51
Thanks Andrew. I guess I should have found that.

It could be a bit of a problem when entering a very large roundabout to determine whether or not an unobstructed path is available to your chosen exit, which could be a long way away and obscured by other vehicles or landscaping.

joe99
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Reply By: Member - Paul Mac (VIC) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:14

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:14
Interesting Question and one many drivers couldn't answer correctly.

Wasn't too long ago a case was heard in the courts regarding a female driver who was hit on the right side in a roundabout.

She argued that she had entered the roundabout prior to the vehicle on her right however, the driver on the right side failed to stop and continued into the roundabout and ultimately hitting her.

The court ruled that the female driver was in the right as she had entered the roundabout first and concluded that the driver on the right should have given way to the vehicle already in the roundabout. He was fined and ordered to pay all costs including any costs relating to the female drivers vehicle repair.

I agree though that drivers on the right appear to think they have a god given right to proceed into a roundabout regardless of the fact that you might have entered the roundabout first.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Ino - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:19

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:19
Nghhh! Good-o... so that makes roundabouts a race to the dotted line, eh?

Great! Just great.

Ino!~
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Follow Up By: Member - Paul Mac (VIC) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:02

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:02
You could Ino but I don't think you would want to get caught trying it.
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Reply By: Bushwhacker - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:30

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 15:30
The way I understand things is that you should give way to any vehicle that is already on the round about before you. That probably means giving way to vehicles on your right. If a vehicle was approaching me from the left, I would give way too, 'cause the driver might be drunk or something, since he is negotiating the round about from the wrong direction! 'Whacker
P.S. will check with son in law, a highway patrol officer... yeah, I know, can't choose your kids husbands for them ..... :-)
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Reply By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:21

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:21
And then there is this one in Swindon in the UK, known locally as the magic roundabout:



That would be fun.

Pete
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:24

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:24
A picture of the road sign leading up to it is here:

Magic Roundabout

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Reply By: Member - Terry W (ACT) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:33

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:33
Whatever else it has done, this thread has certainly proved that many do not understand the rules regarding roundabouts. The rule here in Canberra, which I understand is the same in all states, is that vehicles entering a roundabout must give way to vehicles already on it, regardless of whether they are on the right or left. I won't argue that that is the way it works in practice, but that is the law here and also in the UK and France last time I drove there.
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 17:33

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 17:33
Is also what applies in Queensland.

In NZ roundabouts are used to allow traffic to MERGE That is if there is a gap use it.
As the drivers are a bit more tolerant than here it works.
People shuffle up or back and away you go.

Also there is no such stupid thing as Major and Minor roads over there They are all just Roads and the rules apply everywhere.

Eg at a T intersection the give way to the right applies regardless.
I nearly killed myself the first week I was In Queensland because of this ridiculous rule.

Cheers
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Reply By: DIO - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:46

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 16:46
REMEMBER - if all else fails GIVE WAY TO THE RIGHT that way you'll never be wrong.
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Reply By: Member - Royce- Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 19:07

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 19:07
Laws as written are only as effective as the application.
How they are enforced and interpreted make them what they are.
The important thing here is common sense. You enter a roundabout with care. You fit in where there is a space and give way to the right.
If someone has entered or is entering to your left... why would you drive into them?
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:00

Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:00
Hi Royce,

I agree entirely with your comments, but to add a little to your last point:

If someone has entered or is entering to your left... why would you drive into them?

The situation I'm referring to is just before this - when someone is waiting or approaching the roundabout from your left, so neither of you is in the roundabout yet. Most times the person on the left will not enter the roundabout because they assume they have to give way to the one on the right, and the one from the right assumes that they'll be given way to.

Hence my idea that the unofficial, unstated rule (ie not on any website except this one) which most people follow is: "when approaching a roundabout, give way to any vehicle in it, and to any vehicle approaching from the right unless there's a very large gap".

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Follow Up By: Member - Royce- Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:05

Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:05
A no brainer. You both enter the roundabout simultaneously at the same speed.... just the way you enter a freeway. No give way required. Just courtesy and appropriate driving.
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:14

Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:14
Yep, spot on. However, in my experience 'courtesy and appropriate driving' are rare, and becoming more so. There's a freeway entrance in western Sydney which has a sign telling drivers to merge one at a time, and still people won't do it !
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Reply By: Von Helga - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 21:36

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 21:36
Nic I
Please google RTA NSW
Check rules and Regs and then the whole doco on roundabouts.
Your give way to vehicles on your left is fantasy, "the other vehicle approaching" part of the sentence you mention and interpret as from the left as well is not there.
Be careful out there
Trevor
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Follow Up By: Nic I - Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 08:42

Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 08:42
Thanks Von Helga,

If you look further back in this thread you'll see that I agreed with joe99 that this was a misquote from a driving instructor, not from the RTA site, and that the RTA site doesn't mention 'approaching'.

However, my point is still valid, and is best illustrated by the real-life example from Paul Mac (VIC), also above in this thread, ie vehicles approaching a roundabout from the right seem to assume others approaching from the left have to give way, even if they themselves aren't yet on the roundabout.

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Reply By: Member - Smiley Bill - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 22:34

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 22:34
Hi all,

Allan B makes a couple of interesting points;
-There is no such thing as "Right of Way", the law always specifies who should "give way", and
-Giving way means slowing or even stopping to avoid a collision. No mention of who is in the right or wrong.

If you collide with someone you will be partly to blame for it, whether 90-10, 70-30 or 50-50 you can argue with who ever if you wish. The bottom line is if you weren't there there wouldn't have been a collision.

Thanks to every one for your input, it has been most interesting reading.

SB
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Follow Up By: Member - Smiley Bill - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 22:35

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 22:35
ps

Please refer to the last paragraph of my first reply, Reply no. 1
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Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 22:53

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 22:53
The law is fairly simple:

A driver entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout

Basically if another vehicle enters a roundabout before you - give way.

Indication:

Left indicator to signal leaving the roundabout

Right indicator if travelling more than 180 degrees around the roundabout.

Download a copy of the Australian Road Rules from the net and have a read.

Life's great and it just keeps getting better

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Reply By: Nic I - Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:27

Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 09:27
Thanks everyone, this has been a very interesting and informative discussion, on a great forum. There are very few forums where this could happen so easily and constructively.

My own conclusions from this are:

1. Even though there is no rule anywhere supporting this, people do in fact think they have to give way to the right, leading to congestion and frustration at some busy roundabouts.

2. Roundabouts would work better if they were driven with the same approach as when merging lanes, ie, (if approaching from the right) slow down, be courteous, and let people from the left in. This does happen here and overseas, but we need more of this type of driving on our roads !

Thanks to all, look out for me - I'll be the one in the red Patrol approaching from the right at roundabouts and trying hard to let at least one of you in !

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