Navigating roundabouts with ease

Thursday August 30 2018

Patience is very important when driving at the

Patience is very important when driving at the roundabout. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 

By David S. Mukooza

Roundabouts are changing the way we drive; in certain parts of the world, roundabouts used to be uncommon. However, they are increasingly being used because they ease congestion, cost less to operate, reduce accidents by roughly half, and use less energy than traditional light-operated intersections. Today we try to give you some simple ways to navigate a roundabout.
According to a Micheal Lukwago a driving instructor at MS driving school, the first and automatic rule is to slow down as you approach the roundabout. At this point, you should see a “roundabout ahead” sign or the roundabout itself. In Uganda, the recommended speed is normally 20 – 30kph.

Look out for other motorists
Lukwago urges drivers to look to the left and right before entering the roundabout and yield to any oncoming traffic. Traffic already in the roundabout has the right-of-way and, therefore, one should not enter unless a safe gap is present. However, if there is no traffic in the roundabout, you may enter without any scare.
Lukwago says drivers should maintain a low speed as they manoeuver through the roundabout and proceed to the exit. They should also be mindful of pedestrians in the crosswalk and emergency vehicles such as ambulance when exiting a roundabout.

Emergency vehicles
Sam Oryema, a traffic officer in Kansanga, says if an emergency vehicle is about to enter or has already entered the roundabout, drivers should not stop in the roundabout but instead, exit to the original destination and only then pull over to give way.

Multi-lane roundabouts
“Drivers in a multi-lane roundabout ought to be extra careful about the lanes they take; if you know you will be turning to the right, stay in the rightmost lane,” Oryema cautions motorists, “However, if you see an oncoming car in the left lane, wait for it to pass before entering the roundabout. Although frowned on, the car could merge into your lane just as you are entering the roundabout, causing an accident.”
He also advises drivers to choose which lane to enter based on their exit. In multi-lane roundabouts, which usually have three or more possible exits, the lane you choose to drive in is dictated by the kind of turn you want to make. For example, at the Wampeewo roundabout, if one is coming from Jinja road and they are destined for Wampeewo Avenue, they should keep in the extreme left lane to allow for quick branch off.
In other words, occupy the left lane if you decide to turn left, and occupy the right lane if you decide to turn right or go straight.

Traffic signs
Look for signs indicating the allowed movements for each lane. These signs are usually located above, along the road or as painted arrows on the road itself.
According to Lukwago, a roundabout is like an intersection, through which traffic is continuously flowing and, therefore, stopping in the middle of a roundabout will cause congestion and increase the likelihood of an accident.
He, however, advises pedestrians to look to the left and cross when there is a safe gap in traffic. He also adds that they should stop when they reach the splitter island then look to the right before crossing.

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