Roundabouts, everyone’s worst nightmare. There’s a lot of bad stigma around roundabouts because they can be pretty confusing and scary as a learner driver. I’m here to tell you about my first experience on roundabouts and let you know why I don’t think they’re so bad!
Before the roundabout:
Let’s not beat around the bush, there are a lot of things to think about when going around a roundabout. Before tackling my first roundabout in my driving lessons, my instructor asked me about what I knew about roundabouts and we sat and discussed it before I started driving.
During our discussion, we spoke about the basic rules of the roundabout- the left-hand lane is most often used to turn left or go straight ahead unless marked otherwise, you have to give way to the right-hand side so if they’re moving, you’re not going! And of course, remembering - indicators are a key!
We continued to discuss others tips about driving on roundabouts that aren’t as common - such as where to look (blind spots etc) and judging if it’s safe to go, as well as the speed and distance coming up to a roundabout. She advised me to look further ahead so I can make a judgement early and finding opportunities to go when approaching a roundabout.
I was pretty nervous about tackling roundabouts, but I knew that I needed to learn how to approach them. I mean, let’s face it, there aren’t many journeys that you can do that don’t involve a roundabout or two. So I knew I needed to give them a go, and I was prepared as much as I could be! So, I took off, ready to approach my first roundabout!
The first roundabout
I asked my instructor to talk me through my first experience. We had a loop of 4 roundabouts for me to practice. As we approached our first roundabout, she asked me to slow down to 2nd gear so we could look for any cars and hazards ahead. She proceeded to ask me to check my mirrors to see what was behind me and to the side of the car. After that, my instructor asked me to put on my right signal as we approached into the right-hand lane of our roundabout.
I remember feeling nervous, but my excitement had overcome any anxiety as we started to approach the roundabout. We advanced the roundabout at a steady pace and did MSM (mirrors, signal, manoeuvre) procedure. As the road was clear, we continued onto the roundabout and exited onto our 2nd roundabout. I forgot to indicate when exiting the roundabout, but my instructor was there to correct me and guide me next time.
Many roundabouts later…
I did the same as before when approaching the 2nd roundabout so I checked my mirrors, put on my signal and went around the roundabout when it was clear. I struggled to remember about the indicator- it’s so easily done! However, once I got over a few roundabouts, I started to pick it up and it’s not a problem for me now. I had no problem timing the indicator as well, so I didn’t confuse other drivers of my intentions.
When approaching the 3rd roundabout, the road went up to the national speed limit. I got up to 60mph before reaching the next roundabout. This one was a bit busier and I had to stop at this roundabout as there were vehicles approaching from the right. When I decided it was safe to go, I pulled the clutch up, changed gear and went around the roundabout in 2nd gear.
The 4th roundabout was another quiet one with little traffic but with more exits. I did a loop on the roundabout and came back on myself (4th exit) and practised the same procedure as before- mirrors, signal, manoeuvre. On my way back to my 3rd roundabout, I had to do my first left turn. It’s the same principle as before but instead, I turned left. I did another 2 left turns on each roundabout before my instructor asked me to pull up in a safe place and discuss how I felt.
So how did I feel?
I remember feeling buzzed once we stopped- I did it! This felt like a huge achievement in my driving journey and was proud of myself. The adrenaline started to kick in as I caught the shakes a little- I wanted to do it again. Once I mastered these roundabouts, I knew I could move on to others- bigger with more lanes and exits to tackle.
Before my first roundabout lesson, I had been struggling with braking - but I can safely say that it has gotten a lot better after being put into this scenario! My instructor kept calm which reassured me as well. In return, it helped me to know when to brake and how hard to brake. After a few roundabouts, I got better at judging distance and braking. Not only did I conquer one thing that lesson, but I conquered one of the biggest struggles in my driving journey so far. It’s going to take more time to master them of course, but practice makes perfect!
I'm not alone
When it comes to roundabout nerves, I'm definitely, not alone in this feeling. In fact, Marmalade surveyed 500 learner drivers and over 22% said that a big concern as a learner is roundabouts*! I feel pretty lucky to have tackled this with my driving instructor in the first instance. If you want to see how it can go when tackling roundabouts for the first time with a parent, check out Luke's video!
Once we spoke about how I felt, we set off once again and did the same 4-roundabout loop. By the end of my lesson, I felt confident doing those 4 roundabouts with minimal help from my instructor. Not only was she pleased with me, but I was also pleased with myself.
My advice to you is to keep as calm as possible. Sometimes when I start to panic, I forget everything I know about driving – my mind can go completely blank. Try to keep your nerves contained and don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for guidance. I wouldn’t have completed my first roundabout without my instructors' help. Roundabouts are not as scary once you know how to tackle them – keep practising and you’ll get there!