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Learning to drive

Understanding roundabouts

As a new driver, one of the most difficult things to get your head around is roundabouts.

Roundabouts vary in size - they can be itty bitty mini roundabouts, all the way up to huge, multi-lane roundabouts - but they all have signs on the approach.

The rules for roundabouts

  1. Approaching traffic must always give way to traffic already on the roundabout.
  2. Cars wanting to join a roundabout must give way to traffic already on the roundabout approaching from the right.

It sounds so simple.

Big roundabouts

Larger roundabouts normally have a red triangle warning sign to tell you what you’re about to meet.

These can have a single lane of traffic entering and exiting but can grow to the multi-lane monsters found in high traffic density areas.

Super roundabouts can even come in a series - terrifying the first time you meet one! - but just treat each one separately.

Roundabout sign

Find your exit:

Roundabouts also have rectangular green signs telling you which exit you need. This gives you warning of the position you need to take as you approach the roundabout so look out for them to give yourself time.

Mini roundabouts

Smaller (mini) roundabouts have a sign with a blue circle and white arrows circling right, which you’ll see just before you reach it.

Due to the titchy size of mini roundabouts, they can often be confusing as to who has priority, especially if you’re new to it.

Look at the DRIVER (not the car) to judge whether they're giving way.

Mini roundabout sign

Mini roundabouts are often put in place:

  • At busier T-junctions in quieter residential areas
  • To place a junction between 2 or more intersections
  • As a form of traffic calming

Roundabouts on your driving test

There’s a good chance that roundabouts will be included on your driving test, unless you live in the Outer Hebrides. Most towns have a good mix of mini and larger roundabouts.

And just to really top that off, your test route will often involve the most challenging roundabouts in the area you’ve chosen to take your test - sorry!

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So, simple rules on paper - but it all gets a bit heavy as you start approaching a roundabout.