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How Do You Use That Traffic Circle?

We get asked this question a lot, usually from some irate driver that almost got in or created an accident. Seems there is a lot of confusion regarding Traffic Circles and Round Abouts. Calgary has very few, and often drivers that enter the circle have never driven through one. When you enter a traffic circle in Calgary, you need eyes on the back of your head. Going by the complaints we receive, I'm sure there is a large percentage of people that have no idea how to use one. Below are the traffic circle rules taken from the Alberta Drivers License Handbook. It all makes perfect sense however you can see how it may be confusing to inexperienced drivers.

Traffic Circle Instructions

ENTERING CIRCULAR INTERSECTIONS:

Drivers entering the circular intersection must yield to drivers already in the circle. Once in the circle, drivers must activate the right signal when preparing to exit.

USING THE RIGHT LANE TO ENTER AND EXIT:

Drivers entering the circle from the right lane must do so when it is safe and stay in the right lane while in the circle. They must exit using the right lane.

USING THE LEFT LANE TO ENTER AND EXIT:

Drivers using the left lane to enter the circle must do so when it is safe and stay in the left lane while in the circle/roundabout. They must exit using the left lane. Drivers planning to travel past the first exit should use the left lane to enter and exit.

IN CIRCULAR INTERSECTIONS:

While in the circle, the driver on the right must yield to the driver on the left. Activate the right signal when preparing to exit. Use caution when exiting and crossing through the right (outside) lane.

DO NOT CHANGE LANES IN THE CIRCLE:

Traffic in the red lanes (white arrows) must yield to traffic in the yellow lanes (black arrows). Traffic entering the circle (grey lanes) must yield to traffic in the circle (both red and yellow lanes).

EXITING CIRCULAR INTERSECTIONS:

Always wait to activate your right turn signal after passing the exit that is before your intended exit. This tells other drivers that you intend to leave the circle at the next exit. As you approach, scan for pedestrians and cyclists at the crosswalks at the entrance and exits of the circle.

When you intend to use at the first available exit:

  • Approach the circle using the right lane.
  • Use your right signal as you approach. Leave it on until you have exited the circle.
  • As you approach, scan for pedestrians and cyclists at the crosswalks at the entrance and exits of the circle.
  • Yield to traffic in the circle.
  • Exit the circle using the right lane.

When you intend to leave at any other exit:

  • Approach the circle using the left lane.
  • Activate your left signal to communicate that you do not plan to use the first exit.
  • As you approach, scan for pedestrians and cyclists at the crosswalks at the entrance and exits of the circle.
  • Yield to traffic in the circle.
  • Exit the circle using the left lane.

Remember, when you exit using the left lane:

  • Use your right signal when you pass the exit that is one before the exit you will use.
  • Check for traffic in the right lane that may be continuing around the circle.
  • Look ahead for pedestrians at the crosswalk where you will be exiting.
  • Exit the circle using the left lane.
  • If you cannot stop or exit safely, stay in your lane and travel around the circle-roundabout again.

Roundabouts

There are differences between traffic circles and roundabouts. The centre island of a roundabout is smaller than the centre island of a traffic circle. The roundabout has been designed with a tighter curve around the island to encourage lower speeds and may have a sloped curb to allow more room for larger commercial vehicles. Pedestrian crossings on roundabouts are located away from the intersection for safety, as well as improved lines of sight for motorists and pedestrians. Drivers must follow similar rules when using roundabouts or traffic circles.

Traffic circles and roundabouts are circular intersections designed to improve traffic flow and safety. Their effectiveness has been observed in both their efficiency and their ability to manage relatively large volumes of traffic and reduce accidents because all vehicles drive in the same direction. Traffic always circulates in a counterclockwise direction around a centre island. Vehicles entering the intersection must yield to traffic already in the circle.

For more information and any changes visit the Alberta Transportation Web Site.

Calgary Traffic Circles provided by Transportation Alberta.

It's interesting to note that some traffic circles located throughout the world have more then two lanes.

Imagine driving through one of these in Paris? We have no idea how...

Arc d'Triomphe Traffic Circle Paris Traffic Circle