An Open Letter To Charlotte About Roundabouts


Nobody likes change. Mostly because people are creatures of habit, and it's uncomfortable when something interrupts your routine or habit. And while your brain craves routine (because it doesn't have to work as hard once a pattern is set), it's not good for your brain health in the long run. Really - that's a thing. All this to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg of reasons roundabouts can be so annoying and/or difficult for people to navigate.

It might be worth remembering, especially when you come to a roundabout and not a single driver knows what they're doing. My fiance and I moved to the Highland Creek area, where there are numerous roundabouts, and we both use them every day. Last week, for example, I came to the roundabout on Prosperity Church Road and Craven Thomas Road to get on the outer loop, and a woman clearly had no idea what she was doing. She turned into the left (oncoming) lane and gave me the bird as I sat there, looking at her in disbelief and wonder. Now that I think about it, she probably knew how to use the roundabout and just didn't GAF. But I digress.

Roundabouts aren't that hard to use. You'll hear people say they keep traffic moving better than a four-way stop or traffic lights - and it's true! If you think about it, it makes sense. When you're at an intersection with a four-way stop, if it's busy, either no one knows whose turn it is, or again, people DGAF and go whenever they want. Roundabouts, unlike traffic lights, don't make you wait for a signal to go. But you do need to pay attention. Don't take my word for it (I wouldn't either!), even Mythbusters experimented, and it proved true (see video below).

Here's what you need to know about roundabouts

  • The key is that you have to use common sense. Maybe that's the problem! Common sense seems to be lacking these days. Especially on the roads. Here is some common-sense advice to keep in mind when using or about to use a roundabout.
  • How does a roundabout work? Yield to the left, go to the right.
  • The keyword is yield. That's the best way to understand a roundabout. That means do not stop before entering an empty roundabout.
  • Pay Attention! Like merging (yielding) onto a highway, you have to pay attention to other drivers and adjust your speed according to the flow.
  • Resist the Urge. If there is a driver on your right waiting to enter the roundabout, you're not doing anyone any favors or "being polite" by stopping or waiting for them to go first. At that point, you're stopping the flow of traffic.
  • Finally. If there isn't a car to your left, you should enter the roundabout.

Logically speaking, roundabouts aren't that difficult. If there isn't any traffic, you don't have to stop; you merge as you would anywhere else and yield to traffic. And when you get frustrated with people who can't seem to grasp the concept, whether it's a roundabout or driving in general, remember what I said earlier; change is difficult. Then turn up the radio and blast 99.7 The Fox. I gotchu.


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