Rules of the road: roundabout vs. traffic signal

Posted on October 30, 2011

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So many road bureaucrats claim they oppose roundabouts because they’ll confuse people. Traffic signals (also known as stop lights, temper-inducing stop-and-go features, or death traps) are just easier for drivers to understand. So let’s look at the rules of the road that a driver processes when approaching the two intersection types. [special thanks to Ken Sides of Clearwater, FL who was the brains behind this comparison]

Roundabout

Yield to traffic already in roundabout.

Traffic Signal
1. If the signal is a red ball, come to a complete stop

a) After stopping, you may turn right  but must yield to oncoming traffic; except if the sign says “NO TURN ON RED”, you cannot

b) After stopping, you may turn left on red from a one-way street onto a one-way street but must yield to oncoming traffic

2. If the signal is a green ball you may go straight or turn right, but only if the way is clear – you must yield to vehicles still in the intersection you may turn left but must yield to oncoming traffic

3. If the signal is a yellow ball you may go straight or turn right you may turn left but must yield to oncoming traffic

4. If there is one signal head for several lanes, it applies to all those lanes; if there is a signal head for each lane, each lane is governed by its own signal head; and if there are multiple heads but not as many as there are lanes, generally a head centered above a lane governs that lane, a single head located above the line dividing two lanes governs both lanes, and a single head centered above three lanes governs all three lanes

5. If the signal for your lane is a red arrow pointing left or right, come to a complete stop

a) After stopping, you may turn right on red but must yield to oncoming traffic; except if the sign says “NO TURN ON RED”, you cannot

b) After stopping, you may turn left from a one-way street onto a one-way street ; except if the sign says “NO TURN ON RED”, you cannot

6. If the signal for your lane is a red arrow pointing up, you may not go straight

7. If the signal for your lane is a green arrow pointing left or right, you may turn in the direction of the arrow, after yielding the right-of-way to vehicles within the intersection, even if the red light is burning at the same time

8. If the signal for your lane is a green arrow pointing up, you may go straight, after yielding the right-of-way to vehicles within the intersection, even if the red light is burning at the same time

9. If the signal for your lane is a yellow arrow, it means the same thing as the yellow ball, but applies only to movement in the direction of the arrow

10. If the signal is a blinking red ball, come to a complete stop and then enter the intersection, except you must yield to other vehicles already in the intersection

11. If the signal is a blinking yellow ball, enter the intersection with caution, except you must yield to other vehicles already in the intersection

12. If none of the bulbs on the signal head are illuminated (power outage), come to a complete stop and then enter the intersection with caution, except you must yield to other vehicles already in the intersection


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