Advice · Strangers

Encounter a Roundabout (and other driving etiquette)

Can you please inform the world how not to be a jerk when encountering roundabouts and other traffic calming devices. A word about one lane streets would be appreciated as well.

As folks take to their cars this weekend, it would be great if people brushed up on how to, you know, drive.

Roundabouts
Where I live, roundabouts are a fairly new addition to the local driving repertoire; they are much more common in places like England. When I lived in London, my friends Kate and Richard would take me on adventures throughout the English countryside, navigating their car using a British-accented GPS device that said ‘roundabout’ in the most musical way. Personally I love roundabouts — they keep traffic moving, and when used properly are much less annoying that waiting for a signal to change.

The key phrase there is, of course, ‘used properly.’ Have you never driven in a roundabout? Then here is a great way to avoid being an asshole: take 10 minutes out of your day and watch this video.

Done? Cool. Now, right before you head out on your next road trip, watch it again. Just to make sure you’ve got it covered.

One-Lane Roads
As for one lane streets, here’s the deal: whomever gets to a space where they can pull out first to let the other pass should just do it. Ideally they’ll only have to wait for a couple of cars before they can take their turn down the road. A jerk move is to speed up so that the other person has no choice but to pull out, even though you had the room to do so.

If you are going downhill on a one-lane and they are going uphill, you, the driver going downhill, should be the one to pull off. And if you’ve already passed the space where you can … back that car up. Going uphill takes more energy, and the person going up should be allowed to continue on.

Learn the Local Rules
Not that you asked, but here’s an additional suggestion: if you are going to be driving a different state or city than you usually do, brush up on their rules. Is the standard in-town speed 35? 25? 20? If you haven’t seen a sign on the highway, what should you assume the speed limit is? Can you turn right on red?

And finally … please figure out where you are going before you leave and consider (gasp) printing out some directions. It’s fun to use Google maps or Apple maps or Waze, but sometimes signals go out or phones break, and you don’t want to be totally up a creek because your tiny computer is no longer available to you.

Happy — and safe — driving!

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