Driving an RV is hard enough, but piloting one through a roundabout is a different ballgame. Being a good RVer means knowing how to maneuver a rig in various situations safely. If not, you’ll likely have a damaged camper and several insurance claims on your record.
We want you to be confident and safe when behind the wheel. However, this requires you to know a thing or two about unique driving situations. And in the US, roundabouts are unique but becoming more common.
If you’re wondering if you can drive your RV through a roundabout, we’ve got some answers and helpful driving tips for you.
Let’s check it out!
What Is a Roundabout?
A roundabout is a circular traffic intersection that helps with traffic flow. It converts an ordinary four-way stop into a four-way yield. Drivers yield to traffic already moving in the circle as they proceed counterclockwise. Whether single-lane or multi-lane, all roundabouts generally function the same way.
These junctions aim to improve traffic flow and safety compared to intersections controlled by stop signs or traffic signals. They can also provide a more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian-friendly environment.
A typical roundabout has a central island and one or more approaches or entry points. The middle area often has landscaping and may include crosswalks for pedestrians. The approaches typically curve, which helps slow vehicles entering the circle. This reduces the risk of accidents and increases safety.
Roundabouts Are Everywhere
The use of roundabouts in the United States has a relatively recent history compared to other countries like the United Kingdom, where they’ve been using them for over a century. The first one to appear in the US was in Summerlin, Nevada, in 1990. However, it wasn’t until the late 90s and early 2000s that they gained widespread popularity.
Roundabouts are relatively common throughout the US now. Many drivers have come to prefer them to traditional intersections in many situations. The Federal Highway Administration encouraged their use to improve safety and reduce congestion.
Overall, roundabouts have a generally positive reputation. However, some drivers are unfamiliar with them and don’t fully appreciate the benefits. But roundabouts generally have more positive attributes than negatives and likely aren’t going away anytime soon.
Pro Tip: Become an RV driving pro by attending RV Driving School.
Can You Legally Drive Around a Roundabout?
While the general rules and regulations for using roundabouts are the same everywhere, there are some slight differences. However, no law states drivers can’t drive around the entire circle. While it may throw off your equilibrium and get you dizzy, it’s legally acceptable.
As with many other things, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you should do it. There may come a time when you need to circle because you missed your turn. It may not be convenient, but it can save you a huge headache from changing your route.
On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to circle for the fun of it. Roundabouts can be a bit chaotic, and other drivers might be a little anxious. If you’re circling the spot for fun, you’re creating an unnecessarily risky situation for you and others on the road. Smart drivers make it a habit to choose the safer option when behind the wheel.
What Is the 12 O’clock Rule on a Roundabout?
The 12 o’clock rule is a term used to describe a guideline for safely navigating a roundabout. It states that drivers should choose the left lane if their exit is after the 12 o’clock position and the right lane if it’s before. This helps to avoid potential conflicts with other vehicles when exiting the circle.
While this rule is helpful for safe navigation through roundabouts, it’s not always so black and white. Drivers may need to adjust their position based on traffic flow and other conditions. The most important thing is to stay alert, obey traffic signs or signals, and use your best judgment to navigate the intersection safely.
Can RVs Handle Roundabouts?
Whether or not RVs can handle roundabouts depends on several factors, including the motorhome’s size, the traffic circle’s design, and the operator’s driving skills. Larger rigs may have difficulty navigating tight turns and might need to take a wider path through the circular intersection. But some roundabouts are roomier than others, so you’ll have to figure out how to safely drive around as you approach the circle.
However, many RVs can handle these circular intersections. Drivers of RVs and other larger vehicles must assess the roundabout conditions and adjust their driving accordingly. If you need to use a traffic circle, slow down, be aware of your surroundings, and make wide turns.
Pro Tip: Avoid breaking any of these 10 Unwritten Rules for Highway Driving.
How to Navigate a Roundabout in an RV
To safely navigate a roundabout in an RV, there are several important things that you need to do. Each of these is important and can help you and others on the road safely use and exit the circle. Let’s look at a few considerations for driving your rig through a roundabout.
Choose Your Lane Wisely
The lane you choose is important, especially in multi-lane roundabouts. Vehicles in the outside lane typically can’t legally travel further than the 12 o’clock position. In addition, cars on the inside can’t exit the intersection until they reach that 12 o’clock spot. You need to pay attention because you may have to change lanes before entering the roundabout.
Failure to choose your lane wisely could result in an accident. Unfortunately, if you’re not following the expected traffic pattern, you’ll have no one else to blame but yourself. Look for directional signs as you approach the roundabout to know which lane you should be in.
Look for Pedestrians
Many of these intersections commonly have pedestrian traffic. In these situations, people walking always have the right of way.
This means you must be aware of pedestrians entering and exiting the traffic circle. You don’t want to be responsible for striking someone with your vehicle. Do yourself and the walkers a favor and keep your eyes on the road.
Yield to Traffic
Drivers entering the roundabout must yield to vehicles already driving within it. In theory, it’s a relatively simple and easy concept to understand. However, impatient drivers and those with little regard for others on the road make this more complicated than it needs to be.
If everyone yields correctly, the roundabout works as it should. Unfortunately, as we all know, some drivers ignore the rules and do their own thing, which messes up the traffic flow. Don’t be one of these people, especially when driving an RV.
Use Both Lanes When Needed
You may need to use both lanes if you’re driving a large RV through a multi-lane roundabout. Wait until both lanes are free and make your turns wide. You can also use your flashers to alert other drivers to keep their distance. This can help avoid them trying to pass you in the circle.
Unfortunately, there won’t always be two lanes available. Take turns as wide as possible in these situations, but be aware of obstacles. Signs and curbs can seriously damage an RV if you’re not careful. Go slow and take your time to avoid damaging your rig or someone else’s property.
Use the appropriate turn signal when approaching your exit. You likely wouldn’t be happy if a fellow driver didn’t communicate with you, so make sure you let others know what you’re doing.
Exit the circle and, as we mentioned previously, watch for pedestrians. At this point, if done correctly, you’ll have successfully maneuvered around the circle. Otherwise, expect a honk or two from others on the road.
Should You Drive an RV Through a Roundabout?
Depending on your route, it may be impossible to avoid driving your RV through a roundabout. Since all these circular traffic junctions differ, it’s a good idea to research them before starting your trip.
This is also a good reminder of why having an RV-specific GPS unit is essential. When creating a route, these devices factor in your rig’s length, weight, and road restrictions to keep you safe. They can help you and your RV from experiencing sticky situations, whether it’s a roundabout or low clearance bridge.
Do your part and be the best driver you can be when behind the wheel.
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