Roundabout 101: Knowing your right of way

Roundabout 101: Knowing your right of way
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The new roundabout was installed at Glenrose and Carnahan, just outside the South Hill in the County, and is already causing confusion for residents.

Spokane County recently completed a new roundabout in Spokane at Glenrose and Carnahan. It hasn’t been up and running long, but it’s already showing some growing pains.

4 News Now spoke with a man who lives just down the street from the roundabout who said he’s noticed many confused drivers.

While the roundabouts in the country came in the early 1900s, the first one in the state was put in 1997, according to Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). For example – if you were born in the 80s, 70s or earlier – if you started driving when you were a teenager, they weren’t even around yet. So it’s understandable there’s a bit of a learning curve.

“Vehicle was in the roundabout and they were actually pausing – they were stopping – waiting for people to enter the roundabout and so I was like – what is he doing,” said James Faulkner, a nearby resident.

Roundabouts are becoming a popular traffic design, according to WSDOT, because it creates a safer driving environment.

“It’s all about moving the traffic in kind of a dance. And so as they move through there, they’re entering and exiting at slower speeds and angles that are more appropriate,” said Glenn Wagemann, maintenance & traffic engineer, WSDOT.

Roundabouts also improve traffic flow.

“The signal timing would have to run out before your get your movement to go,” Wagemann said.

It only works if drivers use it correctly.

Here is some roundabout 101, straight from the experts.

“The law says that whoever is in the circle has the right of way,” Wagemann said.

That means if you’re in one of the outer lanes, you’re yielding .

“If there are no cars there in the circle, you can proceed right through, but if there is a car in the circle you need to stop,” Wagemann said.

This is the only time you stop at a roundabout. At the legs, never in the circle.

“That’s something new for people to get used to. It’s a little bit different, because normally things are controlled by a stop sign or a signal and it kind of tells you what to do,” Wagemann said.

If you’re ever confused, just think of Beyonce – ‘to the left, to the left.’

“When you’re at even a T-instersection or a four-way stop – you always look left, right, left. So in this case, you’ll still do that first move. You’ll look to the left,” Wagemann said.

Expect more roundabouts soon. There’s a couple slated for Airway Heights in the near future. WSDOT said as the area continues to grow, this will help alleviate traffic concerns.