South African Culture

How to navigate a double lane traffic circle

At least once a day, I see a car almost getting taken out at a traffic circle. People STILL don’t know how to use them, even though they are so simple.This one is from the Joblog boys. Posted back in ’05, and still so very relevant every single day (Thanks Guys)

The Arrive Alive site also has a really good illustration and animation showing you how to navigate a circle


The diagram above illustrates your everyday traffic circle, or roundabout as some may know it.

Contrary to popular belief, you may not drive wherever the hell you like on whatever side of the road you have chosen i.e. left or right. This diagram shows clearly which direction you may go, depending on which side of the road you are driving.

1. The yellow arrow indicators show you that there are only TWO (2) possible directions to take when on the left hand side of the road, or, outside lane.

2. The blue arrow indicators show that there are also TWO (2) possible directions to take when on the right hand side of the road, or, inside lane.

3. The red indicator arrows show when some idiot decides to take the road-law into his own hands, ending up in an accident, often resulting in an angry argument and possibly a restraining order for use of bad language and throwing punches.

You may be wondering where the blue indicator arrows go to from there? Well, my dears, the rules start all over again. They may go straight, or right again. It’s that simple.

14 replies on “How to navigate a double lane traffic circle”

This is a very necessary tutorial. Some days I wonder how such a car-centric country can have such bad drivers.

Of course, this tutorial completely breaks down at two-lane traffic circles that only have one exiting lane in or more of the four exits.

The easiest for me is the European way.

If you want to exit the traffic circle you must be on the outer lane before your exit!
And even more annoying, yield to traffic already in the circle bliksem

But it is true the legislation is so vague in ZA

What I also see are people using indicators to drive straight through a circle …. WTF??!!??

@Jason you can only do a U-Turn if you drive a Toyota Hiace with with white bands on your tires

This needs to be placed on billboards all over our country, in newspapers, taught over the radio, shown at the movies – everywhere we possibly can! It really is NOT that hard!

In theory this is wrong as you cannat drive past an exit on the outside lane

@Paul Elliot, if in SA is like in the rest of the world –> if want to go out of the circle you must be on the outer circle klaar! You cannot bolt from the inner lane to an exit.
so I concur with you 100%

@paul elliot and @Steph – Actually there is no rule of the road that states that you are not allowed to pass an exit if you’re in the left (outside lane) of a traffic circle. That only applies if you have already signalled to turn left in preparation to exit the roundabout. In that case you must leave at the next exit after starting to indicate.

It is true that the rules pertaining to traffic circles (roundabouts) are very few, and do not include anything about how to drive into and out of them as far as lanes are concerned. Once you’ve entered a traffic circle, the rules of lane usage and signalling are the only real rules that apply. The rest is deemed to be practical common sense … which ain’t much help, given the overall quality of driving in SA.

I’ve put up some pages about mini-circles and roundabouts on my website that you might find useful. They are based on the Rules of the Road and the K53 driving test requirements. (Click on my name to access.)

I am convinced that the 2 rules should be 1. never drive past an exit in the outer lane and 2.Always drive in the inner lane if you do not intend to leave at the first exit. If these 2 were law there should never be an accident.

Paul, that would indeed be ideal in a perfect situation, where all the rules made sense and EVERYONE complied with them.

When one considers, though, that there are many variables involved at traffic circles, it becomes somewhat not so simple to implement in practice.

I’ve mentioned some of these variables on my website. Here are a few to consider:
How heavy the approaching traffic flow is, and whether a driver can actually move into the RH lane in the approach road in order to be in the RH lane within the circle to be able to exit the circle somewhere after his first exit.

How practical and safe is would be for a driver to enter the traffic circle from the left lane of the approach road into the RH (inside) lane of the circle itself — because he was not able to get into the RH lane in the approach road due to traffic density and not being able to get a ‘gap’ to change lanes.

How familiar a driver is with the road layouts in that area, in relation to his desired destination, and so be able to plan well ahead which approach lane to be in.

How many roads intersect with the traffic circle — it could be anything from three to more than four or five.

How safe it would be if vehicles along the approach road were switching lanes in order to enter the roundabout in the ‘correct’ lane.

The real cause of collisions in traffic circles is in all likelihood due to drivers who do not comply with the rules of the road in regard to signalling, lane changing and right of way, as well as lack of plain common sense, possibly fuelled by impatience and an aggressive driving mindset.

I sometimes wonder if South Africa is mature enough to handle traffic circles at all, in the same intelligent and mature manner roundabouts are dealt with in some other countries. Perhaps traffic flow at busy intersections should be controlled another way — like fly-over roads.

The reality for now is that the rule you are suggesting does not exist. So, until the Department of Transport can come up with something better than the mess we have now, we have to comply with the existing rules. The DoT even fails to see that they are working outside the requirements of the National Road Traffic Act in regard to some of the questions they have set and continue to want to add to the Learner’s Licence test. I wish I could find someone with the enthusiasm and legal knowledge to run with this one. Perhaps some investigative journalist and newspaper editor could do it.

What I am referring to is explained on this page at my website:

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