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  • Ellis Wood ADI

Balls to it all.

Love them or hate them you’re pretty much guaranteed to hit a roundabout at some point on your journey around town. You are absolutely guaranteed to get at least one on your driving test.



So…..here is….A quick history of roundabouts

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The first roundabout was built in Letchworth Garden City, in Britain in 1907, and was intended to serve as a traffic island where pedestrians could gather shortly before continuing with their journey. But it is argued that these were not true roundabouts given that they had a very different purpose. With time, though, roundabouts were used to slow vehicle speeds and increase the safety of both motorists and pedestrians. This is because drivers had more time to judge pedestrians and oncoming vehicles. In 1966, the UK passed a law to help guide the construction and use of roundabouts.


The image has been taken from ‘The White House’ (then it was Normanhurst and St Francis' Grammar School) and shows the roundabout almost constructed at what had been a crossroads in Wooler Road and Grange Road.


Grange Road is to the right.


Date (of image) : 0/11/1971

Donor : Hartlepool Museum Service

Creator : NDM

Tips for avoiding undue hesitation especially at roundabouts:

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1. When approaching a roundabout I tell my pupils this one thing “plan to go but prepare to stop”. Remember roundabouts are designed to keep traffic flowing. By planning to go your brain is looking for opportunities to go whilst getting prepared to stop if no opportunity arises.


2. It all begins with your approach. Slow down really early and look as early as you can into the road on your right, and across the roundabout itself. By watching the traffic flow really early, you can sometimes slow yourself down and take an opportunity to go. By timing your arrival at the roundabout when there is a gap, is a great way. By practicing this you will find that you actually stop far less often.


3. Remember your brain is really good at spotting what you tell it to, so if you get it to look for cars it will almost always find one and make you stop, so look for gaps.


4. If you do have to stop, ensure that your feet are ready to go; try to avoid just sitting with your foot on the brake and clutch down. The longer it is going to take you to get moving, the bigger a gap you will need. Exactly how you set your feet will depend on whether the surface you are on is flat, uphill or downhill, but you can experiment with different situations like being on bite with gas set if it’s uphill.


5. Practice moving off quickly, I call this ‘drag starts’ like the drag races. Park up somewhere in a quiet road, and when it is safe, see how quickly you can get moving such as saying 1, 2, 3, go. This will help give you build the confidence to pull out into fast moving traffic at busy roundabouts.


6. While you are waiting to go, think about where you should be looking. Don't look just at the cars which are coming from the right, look beyond them to try to see the gaps. As mentioned previously, try to have your feet ready and anticipate the gap so that you are ready when it comes.


7. Look at the other junctions for ‘blockers’. If there are 10 cars coming from the right, and no gaps in sight, who is going to stop those cars? Who are THEY having to give way to? It may be a car coming from straight ahead of you, or even from the road on your left, if it is turning right. Again, try to anticipate this happening and have your feet ready


8. lastly when you do pull out be careful of cars on the inside lane. With 2 lane roundabouts some people wrongly think because the car is in the centre lane and we are using the outer lane then it is safe to pull out. That’s not true, that car will be moving towards the outer lane to exit the roundabout. Always wait until that car is in view in your front windscreen, not your drivers door window.


Most of all, just practice! These are all (hopefully) helpful tips, but the main thing is to keep practicing by doing lots of different roundabouts (different sizes/shapes etc).


Hope this helps....

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