Great roundabout debate

It is spring again (thank goodness) and as traffic starts to flow a little more confidently and smoothly, we see all the signs of poor driving habits magnified because the speeds on the roads have increased slightly. 

I just helped teach a safe winter driving course a few weeks ago and while we teach some advanced driving techniques during the course, we have left the basics up to somebody else. But perhaps the basics are not being covered very well.

I always talk about the things that can make everyone’s life on the road a little easier and safer the night before we do the practical aspect. 

When we ask who in the room thinks they are a skilled driver, many people will suggest they are. When you ask why, the only answer is they have driven for many years.

As in many instances we can in fact learn bad habits repetitively. Drivers if they are lucky experience no penalty. If you are a chef with bad habits and produce bad food you run out of jobs. with driving we just continue o drive badly. 

Some of the worst examples of ignorant driving are IMHO:

Left Lane Hogs 

The left lane is for overtaking. (That was a period. No more to say) You shoulder check for a space to move into and if available you indicate your intentions and change lanes. Once your overtaking manoeuvre is complete you reverse the process. 

4 Way Stop Stoppers 

If it is safe to enter a four-way stop after coming to a complete stop and it is also safe to exit on your chosen lane, then you should proceed to do so. A four-way stop does not mean that if you see traffic 500 metres away proceeding to the stop, then you should stop until everybody is stopped knowing you are first to go. Just flippin’ go. 

Traffic Light Turners 

On a filter, we can proceed; it is always wise to check if it is safe as you proceed. However when the filter is off and you still have a green light, you proceed into the intersection and prepare to turn left. You do not sit at the line by the light ensuring that in heavy traffic, you are the only person to get across the signal. If it is safe to enter the intersection, you should proceed to do so.

Overtaking lane rockets 

This happens all the time and also when you actually try and overtake somebody. You may have a car in front of you that is going slower than the limit and the safe speed for the road in the conditions.

Yet as soon as you attempt to overtake they speed up. This is downright stupid and dangerous.

The same is true for overtaking lanes. In the mountains, they are few and far between, yet you can follow somebody 20 km/h under the safe driving limit for 30 minutes and as soon as they get two lanes in the same environment and conditions, they accelerate to 20 km/h over the limit. Then — you guessed it — they slow down as it goes back to a single lane. Don’t do that. 

Let’s talk about roundabouts 

The first thing to remember is that they are designed to move traffic more efficiently and smoothly without necessarily coming to a stop. 

There are two major problems in Canada. We have mini-roundabouts here compared to much of Europe where they are larger and multi-lanes, which makes the use of indicators very important because you are changing lanes on the roundabout. 

We also have a habit of stupidly giving a priority to pedestrians close to the exit of roundabouts, negating the benefit completely and creating an extremely dangerous situation similar to letting pedestrians cross when you are turning right at traffic lights. 

Perhaps we have compromised and confusing roundabouts to start with. In essence, you simply yield to get on. If there is a suitable gap in the traffic or no traffic, you are able to drive in to the roundabout. If you are taking the first exit, you might indicate right as a courtesy.

If you are going straight ahead on our “mini-roundabouts,” you are probably best not to use indicators, but if you are taking the third exit (a left turn at a four-way stop) it is courteous to indicate left past the first two exits and then change to a right indication to let everyone know you are leaving the roundabout. 

If you think it should be done any other way, please avoid renting a car in Europe, it could end up being a negative experience.


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

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