Navigating Ohio’s Roundabouts

Once found nearly exclusively in Europe, today there are more than 5,000 roundabouts on our nation’s roadways. The first roundabouts were built in the United States over a century ago. Once scarce, their numbers have doubled in the last decade, with hundreds more in the planning stages.

What is a roundabout?

A modern roundabout is a circular intersection where drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island. It replaces traffic lights or stop signs at the intersection. Unlike old-fashioned traffic circles, where incoming traffic had the right of way, in a modern roundabout, drivers must yield to traffic already in the roundabout, then proceed into the intersection and exit at their desired street. Roundabouts are designed to improve traffic flow, reduce accidents, and save energy.

How to drive in a roundabout

Roundabouts are designed to make intersections safer and more efficient for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. There are two types of roundabouts: Single-lane roundabouts and multi-lane roundabouts.

Driving roundabouts safely
Driving through a single-lane roundabout. Click to enlarge.
(Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Transportation.)

Important tips for driving roundabouts:

  • Yield to drivers in the roundabout
  • Stay in your lane; do not change lanes
  • Do not stop in the roundabout
    (If you’re in a roundabout when an emergency vehicle also enters, exit the roundabout first, and then pull over.)
  • Avoid driving next to oversized vehicles

Driving in single-lane roundabouts

Roundabouts are marked with a yellow “roundabout ahead” sign with an advisory speed limit for the roundabout. Slow down as you approach the roundabout, and watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Continue toward the roundabout and look to your left as you near the yield sign and dashed yield line on the road at the entrance to the roundabout. Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. If there is no traffic in the roundabout, you may enter without yielding. Look for pedestrians and use your turn signal before you exit.

Driving multi-lane roundabouts

In a multi-lane roundabout, you will see two signs as you approach the intersection: The yellow “roundabout ahead” sign and a black-and-white “lane choice” sign. You will need to choose a lane prior to entering the roundabout.

You choose your lane in a multi-lane roundabout the same way you would in a traditional multi-lane intersection. To go straight or right, get in the right lane. To go straight or left, get in the left lane. Drivers can also make U-turns from the left lane.

Driving through multi-lane roundabouts
Driving through a multi-lane roundabout. 
(Photos courtesy of Washington State Department of Transportation.)



What is a Roundabout?” Pages – Roundabouts in District 3. Ohio Department of Transportation. Web. Accessed 9 Sept. 2015.

WSDOT – How to Drive a Roundabout.” WSDOT – Safety. Washington State Department of Transportation. Web. Accessed 4 Sept. 2015.

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