As an experienced driver, you may think you know and understand all the rules of the road, but roadways are ever-changing and are becoming more complex with every passing year. This makes it difficult for drivers to maneuver, so we want to give you information on how to deal with some of the most challenging driving situations.
At roundabouts, vehicles travel counterclockwise around a center island, with entering traffic yielding the right of way to circulating traffic.
Some roundabouts have more than one lane of traffic. If there are multiple lanes, observe the signs and pavement markings to determine which lane to use before entering the roundabout. Generally, left turns should be made from the left lane or other lanes that are signed and marked as left turn lanes. If making a right turn, stay in the right lane or other lanes that are signed and marked as right turn lanes.
In any type of roundabout it is important to slow down, obey traffic signs and yield to pedestrians, bicyclists and traffic on your left. Only enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic. Always remember to use your right turn signal when approaching your intended exit. Although roundabouts may be confusing at first, they result in slower speeds and fewer crashes, especially the right-angle and head-on crashes that often result in injuries or even deaths. Roundabouts also help decrease vehicle emissions and fuel use and manage traffic congestion.
Right of Way
Right-of-way refers to a set of rules governing how individuals and their vehicles should interact in situations where they might come into conflict (or, who should let the other person go first). These rules specify who has first priority to use the conflicting part of the road and who has to wait until the other does so. Nearly 35% of traffic citations for drivers 55-plus are issued for failure to yield the right-of-way, so this is a subject that deserves careful attention.
Here are the general rules for right-of-way at four-way stops:
- Whichever vehicle arrives first at the stop has priority.
- If two vehicles stop at the same time, priority is given to the vehicle on the right.
- If an intersection is congested, or if the traffic signals are not working, all vehicles should treat it as a four-way stop.
Merging— entering one roadway from another— can be a tricky or high-risk maneuver, especially in high-traffic situations. It is a source of anxiety for many drivers, but it is a skill that most of us need to use for highway driving.
Here are some tips on how to merge safely:
- Prepare well in advance. Look around you, in front, behind and in other traffic lanes.
- Use your turn signal to let the drivers around you know your intentions.
- Identify a safe gap into which you can merge.
- While in the merge lane, adjust your speed to match the speeds of the other vehicles.
- Check your blind spots to make sure that you still have space to merge into the lane.
- When there is enough space for you on the highway, merge into that space, bringing your vehicle up to highway speed as quickly as possible, and turn off your turn signal.
- If no merge lane exists, signal, identify a gap and merge, bringing your vehicle up to highway speed as soon as possible.
Part of being a Smart driver is being a well-informed driver. Knowing how to drive safely in challenging situations is important! Consider taking a driver improvement course, such as the AARP Smart Driver™ course, available online or in a classroom setting near you, in both English and Spanish. In some states, you may even be eligible for a multi-year insurance discount upon completion of the course.* AARP membership is not required to take the course. For more information, please visit http://www.aarp.org/drive or call 1-877-846-3299.
*The insurance premium discount is not available in all states for the online or the classroom versions of the course. Please consult your insurance agent for further details.