What are unsafe behaviors to avoid in roundabouts? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Roundabouts are efficient and often safer alternatives to traditional intersections when used correctly. However, to ensure their safety and functionality, it’s crucial for drivers to avoid certain unsafe behaviors in order to avoid vehicle accidents:

Failure to Yield to Vehicles Inside the Roundabout

One of the most critical rules for navigating roundabouts is yielding to vehicles already inside the circle. Failing to yield can lead to collisions and disrupt the flow of traffic. Always wait for a safe gap in traffic before entering the roundabout.

Changing Lanes Inside the Roundabout

Once you’ve entered a roundabout, it’s essential to stay in your designated lane until you exit. Changing lanes within the roundabout is dangerous and can result in side-swipe collisions. Plan your lane choice based on your intended exit and stay in that lane.


Following the vehicle in front of you too closely is a dangerous behavior in any traffic situation, but it’s especially problematic in roundabouts. Sudden stops or slowdowns can occur when drivers yield or exit, and tailgating increases the risk of rear-end collisions. Maintain a safe following distance to allow for unexpected maneuvers.


Excessive speed is a common issue in roundabouts. Entering a roundabout too fast can make it challenging to yield to oncoming traffic or safely navigate the circle. Always approach roundabouts at a safe, controlled speed, and be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary.

Ignoring Pedestrians

Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks within and around roundabouts. Failing to yield to pedestrians can result in serious accidents. Be attentive to crosswalks, look out for pedestrians, and stop if they are crossing.

Overtaking Vehicles Inside the Roundabout

Attempting to pass other vehicles within a roundabout is a dangerous maneuver. It can lead to collisions and disrupt the traffic flow. Wait for a safe opportunity to exit the roundabout rather than attempting to overtake slower vehicles.

Not Using Turn Signals

Proper use of turn signals is crucial in roundabouts. Always use your signals to indicate your intentions, whether you’re entering, changing lanes, or exiting the roundabout. This helps other drivers anticipate your actions and contributes to smoother traffic flow.

Blocking Exits

Blocking exits by stopping within the roundabout is not only frustrating for other drivers but also dangerous. Ensure you have a clear path to exit before entering the roundabout. If you miss your exit, continue around the circle and try again.

Cutting Across the Center Island

Some roundabouts feature a center island or splitter island. Cutting across this island to take a shorter route or exit is illegal and hazardous. Always follow the designated lanes and traffic flow.

Failing to Adjust for Large Vehicles

Be aware that large vehicles, such as trucks and buses, may need more space to navigate a roundabout. Give them extra room and be patient if they require additional time to complete their maneuvers.

Distracted Driving

Using mobile phones, eating, or engaging in other distractions while driving through a roundabout is dangerous and can lead to accidents. Focus on the road, other vehicles, and pedestrians to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Not Yielding to Emergency Vehicles

If an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens on approaches a roundabout, yield the right of way and move to the side to allow them to pass safely.

Inadequate Use of Mirrors and Blind Spots

Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or exiting the roundabout. Failing to do so can result in collisions with vehicles that may be in your blind spots.