How To Navigate Traffic Circles 101

Aireal View Traffic Circle

Datsun’s Tips To Navigate Traffic Circles

Most drivers have experienced mayhem and confusion at traffic circles as almost everyone thinks it’s their right of way. Many drivers also believe that they are the only ones who know the rules and what to do. Even the timidest drivers become something else the second they enter traffic circles and expect other drivers to wait.

Let’s face the fact that it is mostly the wrong attitude that results in confusion at traffic circles. Too many drivers have no idea what to do and they simply rush to get around it as fast as possible. We’ve all seen these drivers barging through traffic and ignoring the basic rules while pointing finger at everyone else.

Thing is, there’s no shame in admitting defeat if you don’t know the rules as more people are confused than you might think. For that reason, ArriveAlive has compiled some useful information for navigating traffic circles in South Africa.

How To Merge Into Traffic Circles

The first golden rule when approaching a traffic circle is to use your common sense and slow down. Remember, traffic circles are there to manage traffic flow and not for drifting challenges. Even more serious is that you don’t know if other vehicles are approaching and their speed so it’s always best to be cautious.

In South Africa, vehicles to your right at traffic circles have the right of way. Regardless of who was there first, always yield to vehicles approaching from the right. For example, when approaching traffic circles and there is a vehicle entering to your right, you should let them go first. Even if more vehicles appear behind the first one, you should let them go past. If there only vehicles to your left, then you have the right of way.

It’s important to note that traffic circles are not four-way stops even though many drivers treat them that way. The problem with doing this is that traffic circles are designed to keep traffic flowing and using the ‘first-to-arrive first-to-drive’ approach defeats the entire purpose.

How To Drive Through A Traffic Circle

It doesn’t matter how big or small the traffic circle, the rules on you should manage them are the same. Considering that traffic circles are part of the road, the normal rules still apply. So remember to keep left and indicate if you’re taking the first exit.

When you want to take the second exit, use your discretion based on the size of the traffic circle. If it’s too small to change lanes before you exit, then stay in the left lane from the beginning and indicate to turn left when appropriate.

If you are going to take the last exit and there are multiple lanes, you should stay on the inside lane (right-hand lane) and then move to the left when you want to exit. Please take extra care when navigating traffic circles as they tend to be more condensed. Indicating when changing lanes or exiting is non-negotiable as other drivers can’t guess what you want to do and there is very little room to manoeuvre.

The Purpose Of Traffic Circles

Many of us have had bad experiences with traffic circles and may wonder why they even exist. Fact is, they play an essential role in managing traffic flow and are designed to do the following:

  • Slow down traffic in residential areas, outside schools and shopping centres
  • They minimize the risk of head-on collisions and reduce the overall severity of potential accidents
  • Improve traffic flow as there is often no reason to stop completely when used correctly
  • They can be aesthetically pleasing and city planners prefer circles to intersections as they add flow to the layout of an area and create an opportunity to add greenery inside the circles

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