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Driving in a Roundabout

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“The Kietzke-Neil roundabout, designed and installed by the [Washoe County] RTC, is the star. Cars once backed up in long lines at a four-way stop on Kietzke Lane to turn left on Neil Road. Traffic now moves smoothly from Kietzke to Neil thanks to the dual-lane roundabout. Delays are rare, and accidents rarer.”
-Reno-Gazette Journal editorial, January 5, 2009

Nevada DMV Drivers Handbook – Driving in a Roundabout.

Roundabouts do not use stop signs, but often use yield signs to notify each driver to first yield to approaching vehicles in the roundabout. Here is how it works.

  • As you approach, slow down and yield to pedestrians/bicyclists. For multi-lane roundabouts, choose the appropriate lane to use.
  • Yield to driver’s left. Those in the roundabout have the right-of-way.
  • Travel counter-clockwise through the roundabout.
  • Use your turn signal to indicate when exiting.

Approaching a Roundabout

Much as traffic stops often are marked in advance with “Signal Ahead” or “Stop Ahead” signs, many roundabouts have traffic signs notifying drivers in advance that they will soon be entering a roundabout. Drivers should decrease their speed as they approach a roundabout, and follow any posted speed signs.

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Entering A Roundabout

When readying to enter a roundabout, look in each direction, paying particular attention to vehicles circling the roundabout to the driver’s left.

As at any traffic intersection, yield to pedestrians and bicyclists and do not enter a roundabout when an emergency vehicle is approaching in any direction.

Give the right-of-way and yield to traffic and/or pedestrians or bicyclists, then enter the roundabout when there is an adequate gap in circulating traffic flow. Remember that bicyclists are permitted to ride in the lane just as other vehicles do. Do not pass bicycles or other vehicles in a roundabout.

If there are no vehicles immediately approaching, it is legal to proceed into the roundabout without stopping, as long as all traffic laws are followed.

Driving In A Roundabout

Following posted speed limits, proceed through the roundabout following the roadway counterclockwise to the right of center island.

Within a roundabout, do not stop for vehicles waiting to enter the roundabout. Those driving within a roundabout have right-of-way over vehicles readying to enter the roundabout.

Before exiting, use turn signals to indicate where you will exit the roundabout.

Remember that many roundabouts feature crosswalks after you have exited the roundabout itself. Always yield to anyone in this crosswalk.

Find more information on roundabout driving laws on our traffic law of the month Web site.

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Roundabouts With Multiple Lanes

Additional driving reminders apply when driving in a multi-lane roundabout. When approaching a multi-lane roundabout, you must choose the left or right lane before entering. Select the right lane if you are making an immediate right turn or proceeding straight through the intersection (i.e. traveling approximately halfway through the roundabout and exiting at the other end of the roundabout from which you entered). Select the inside left lane if you are proceeding straight through the intersection, making a left turn (usually the turn that you will reach after proceeding 75% through the intersection) or making a U-turn (proceeding all the way through the roundabout and into the exact opposite direction from which you entered the roundabout). Do not overtake other vehicles or bicyclists when in the roundabout. Do not exit from the inside, left-hand lane if there is a vehicle traveling on your right. Never travel next to commercial trucks or other large vehicles in a multi-lane roundabout, as these vehicles may need extra lanes to maneuver the roundabout.

Walking and Bicycling In Roundabouts

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Pedestrians

The use of roundabouts can offer challenges to pedestrians, especially the sight-impaired. However, in some cases, small, low-volume, single-lane roundabouts can offer the walking public the advantage of breaking up the crossing, only crossing a single lane width and having to deal with traffic coming from one direction. In large or multi-lane roundabouts, pedestrians should always be cautious as there is no dedicated signal phase, or break, designated to accommodate walkers. Pedestrians should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Always walk around the perimeter of the roundabout. Never cross the circulatory roadway to the central island
  • Use cross walks (if available) on the legs of the roundabout. If there is no marked crosswalk, cross the leg when it is safe about one vehicle-length away from the circulatory roadway.
  • Always look and listen for approaching traffic. Even though pedestrians have the right-of-way, satisfy yourself that vehicles have recognized your presence and right to cross. This is especially true of roundabout entries and exits with more than one lane.
  • Always use the splitter island between entries and exits for refuge.

Bicyclists

Well-designed, low-speed, single-lane roundabouts should not present much difficulty to bicyclists. Larger, higher speed, multi-lane roundabouts may intimidate even a seasoned bicyclist.

Roundabouts generally give bicyclists two options:

Ride like a car

If you are comfortable riding in traffic, ride on the circulatory roadway of the roundabout like a car. Claim the entire circular travel lane (right hand lane in multi-lane facilities) by riding near the center of the lane as a car would. This inhibits vehicles from trying to pass you. Obey the same driving rules as a vehicle. Make sure you signal your intentions to join or leave the roundabout. Be wary of vehicles crossing your path to do the same.

Walk like a pedestrian

Bicyclists may dismount and exit the approach lane before the splitter island and move to the sidewalk. Once on the sidewalk, walk your bicycle like a pedestrian.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are reminded that walking and biking safety procedures apply in a roundabout, as on other areas of public roads. Attention must be paid to nearby vehicles to help ensure safety, and all Nevada bicycle and pedestrian laws must be followed. See the Nevada bicycle law Web page for a list of laws.

Important note: these roundabout driving guidelines are general guidelines. Always follow posted signs and guidelines that apply specifically to the roundabout you are traveling.