Dealing with roundabouts as a learner driver
How to handle busy roundabouts
Learning to drive can evoke a mixture of emotions. Excitement, eagerness, pride, apprehension, nervousness, even dread. Most of the time, getting behind the wheel during driving lessons actually makes us feel all of this at once. Talk about emotional overload!
With practice, positive emotions will start to take over but certain requirements of driving on the roads prevent nerves from being banished altogether.
Roundabouts continue to be one of these culprits. And understandably so! There are so many things to think about, clutch control, steering, speed, mirrors, signals, observations. Talk about multitasking!
As an intrinsic part of the practical driving test, it is important you are comfortable using roundabouts. While no two are the same, here are some handy driving tips which will help you feel more prepared in no time!
- Identify a roundabout is ahead
- Using road signs, road markings, chevrons or traffic crossing up ahead
The ability to read road signs is also vital for other sections of the practical driving test, such as independent driving, so it is important you can understand them. If you are currently studying for your theory test, this will help in this area too. Win win!
- Plan to stop
- Start reducing speed
- Move into right lane
- Stop and wait…
Roundabouts can get very busy, so it is important you slow down as soon as you see one ahead. This way you can stay safe, calm and in control. Identify which lane you need to be in and then stop and wait for the right opportunity before pulling out.
- Conduct observations
- Be aware of the cars all around you
Many people fall into the habit of only looking to the right. Cars in front of you are also waiting to go and don’t always pull out when you expect them to, so make sure your path is clear before you make your move.
- Look for opportunities to go
- Wait for the right opportunity
- Be patient and don’t rush
- Check, check, check – Cars can seem to spring from nowhere on roundabouts, so make sure you keep checking the coast is clear before you proceed.
In an ideal world, I would be writing, check where other vehicles are indicating. Unfortunately, many people either don’t indicate, indicate too late or maybe most concerning of all, don’t indicate correctly. So, remember not to rely on this! Don’t rush into pulling out, take your time and make sure you find a safe opportunity to go. And remember to indicate yourself…
Tips to feel roundabout ready for your practical driving test and beyond…
The first step is to overcome any worry that’s associated with roundabouts. Focus on the fact that statistically, roundabouts are the safest kind of junction.
Don’t feel under pressure!
I have spoken to many people about their roundabout worries and a lot of the time, mistakes stem from feeling rushed to enter a roundabout. I’m sure we can all think of a time when we were subject to agitated waves or beeps from impatient drivers behind. Victims of roundabout road rage! Don’t let this put you off. Just remember, they were once nervous learners too!
Be prepared to make mistakes
Driving is super unpredictable, we’re human, mistakes are inevitable. It’s that simple.
Don’t beat yourself up!
Most of us tend to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes (despite being repeatedly told our whole lives that mistakes aren’t the enemy and actually help us learn). We focus on our errors and make them bigger than they are. Then next time, we feel even more nervous and overthink the whole situation. It’s a vicious circle and only makes things more difficult. Even the most experienced drivers feel nervous and make mistakes at roundabouts, so you are not alone.
So, relax, take it slow and remember, practice makes perfect…