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Proper driving procedures regarding roundabouts

Recent road construction projects with the City of West Fargo have included the use of the traffic round-about construction features meant to increase traffic safety and efficiency of vehicular travel, used for many years in European communities but relatively new to our area.

Starting in the 1960s, research in the United Kingdom found that circular junctions with certain geometric characteristics and traffic control schemes tended to be safer than those without them and the engineers building them distinguished them with the term roundabout.

With the increasing number of roundabouts being constructed in the City of West Fargo, we would like to take a little time explaining the proper driving procedures. When approaching a roundabout the first thing you should do is reduce your speed. Next you should always keep to the right of the splitter island (either painted or raised) on the approach to the roundabout. When entering the roundabout and upon reaching the roundabout yield line, yield to traffic circulating from the left. Do not enter the roundabout beside a vehicle already circulating within the roundabout, as a vehicle near the central island may be exiting at the next exit. Watch out for traffic already on the roundabout, especially cyclists and motorcyclists. Do not enter a roundabout when an emergency vehicle is approaching on another leg; allow queues to clear in front of the emergency vehicle. When an emergency vehicle is approaching, in order to provide it a clear path to turn through the roundabout, proceed past the splitter island of your exit before pulling over. When your vehicle is within the roundabout, do not stop except to avoid a collision; you have the right-of-way over entering traffic. Always keep to the right of the central island and travel in a counterclockwise direction. When exiting the roundabout maintain a slow speed. Always indicate your exit using your right-turn signal. Watch for and yield to pedestrians waiting to cross, or crossing the exit leg. Watch out for and be particularly considerate of people with disabilities, children, and elderly pedestrians. Do not accelerate until you are beyond the pedestrian crossing point on the exit.

Watch out for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Give them plenty of room and show due consideration. Bicyclists may enter the approach roadway from a bicycle lane. Bicyclists will often keep to the right on the roundabout; they may also indicate with a left turn gesture to show they are continuing around the roundabout. It is best to treat bicyclists as other vehicles and not pass them while on the circulatory roadway. Motorcyclists should not ride across the mountable truck apron next to the central island, if present. When car drivers approach a roundabout, do not overtake large vehicles. Large vehicles (for example, trucks and buses) may have to swing wide on the approach or within the roundabout. Watch for their turn signals and give them plenty of room, especially since they may obscure other conflicting users. To negotiate a roundabout, drivers of large vehicles may need to use the full width of the roadway, including mountable aprons if provided. They should be careful of all other users of the roundabouts and, prior to entering the roundabout, satisfy themselves that other users are aware of them and will yield to them.

If you have any further questions on the proper driving within a roundabout, contact the West Fargo Police Department at 433-5500.