Juliet McGuire

You’re doing it wrong!

Traffic circles, roundabouts, whatever you want to call them, seem to be the trigonometry of driving. People pretend to know what they’re doing, but actually, they haven’t a cooking clue and the rest of us have to suffer because of it.

And just so you are aware, I am talking about South African traffic circles, the rules that apply to us here at the bottom of the world map. What is up with our people? It seems we see a traffic circle and all systems fail. A bit like when it starts raining…oh the panic amongst SA drivers!


Arrive Alive has made it quite simple really, but I have made it simpler. Let’s take a look:

AA: On approaching a roundabout take notice and act on all the information available to you, including traffic signs, traffic lights and lane markings which direct you into the correct lane.

Me: Look for the arrows, Einstein!

AA. If you take your time and make sure you are in the correct lane a good distance from the roundabout you can’t go far wrong.

Me: Slow the f*** down!

AA: Slow down as you approach the intersection – You’re typically not required to stop.

Me: But stop if there is a car in front of you. Obviously! Many rear-end collisions happen at traffic circles. 

AA: A roundabout is designed to be driven at low speed. Entering and traveling through a roundabout at higher speed is difficult and could be unsafe.

Me: You are and never will be a Formula One driver, so stop it! 

AA: As you enter the roundabout, traffic coming from your right has right of way. This means that traffic streaming into the roundabout from the entrance to your right will keep coming as long as no one is coming from their right.

Me: I mean, it’s not rocket science really. Just look right!

AA: Watch out for other traffic in the roundabout.

Me: But also look left before you hit that accelerator, or the car in front of you

AA: Watch out for vehicles already on the roundabout; be aware they may not be signaling correctly or signaling at all.

Me: Basically every South African driver, except me!

AA: Watch for pedestrians and bicycles.

Me: This feels like a test! 

AA: Signal your intent to other drivers when entering, going around and exiting the circle.

Me: You know those flicking things on the side of your steering wheel? Use them! If you are about to take the third exit, INDICATE to the left BEFORE you approach that exit. It lets me know what the hell you’re doing.  

AA: If you miss your turn, just go around again. Avoid swerving at the last minute.

Me: Mr Bean did it, so can you! 

(for dummies)

To Turn Left (taking the first exit)

  • signal left and approach in the left-hand lane
  • keep to the left on the roundabout and continue signaling left to leave.

To go straight on (taking the second exit)

  • select the appropriate lane on approach to and on the roundabout. If no marking on the road it is usually safest to keep to the left lane
  • stay in this lane until you need to alter course to exit the roundabout
  • signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.

To Turn Right (taking the last exit or third exit )

  • signal right and approach in the right-hand lane
  • keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit the roundabout
  • signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.

If you want to see some dangerous driving, you should check out some of these videos. They don’t all involve traffic circles but they certainly involve the same kind of driver who cannot navigate a circle correctly.

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