For the majority of drivers, one of the most confusing driving laws is the correct use of a traffic circle. In fact, many motorists do not know that there is a difference between the larger traffic circles and the mini traffic circles, other than their size. Can you really be frustrated if someone cuts you off at a traffic circle if you don’t know the rules? Let’s have a closer look.

What is the difference between the two circles?

A traffic circle is classified as large when it has a minimum diameter of about 16m and a 1.5m to 2m flattened curb which allows heavy vehicles to drive onto a small section of the circle. A mini traffic circle is normally not more than 7m to 10m in diameter and the entire circle is mountable for heavy vehicles.

Are there differing rules for each?

Yes. The rule of thumb is that mini traffic circles, which are usually found in residential areas, have the same rules as a four-way stop – first come first served. For larger traffic circles, which are usually found at busy crossings to assist with the flow of traffic, you must give way to the right.

Rules to remember at a large traffic circle:

  1. Slow down as you arrive at a large traffic circle and indicate your direction. Traffic coming from your right in the circle has right of way, regardless of how many cars there are.
  2. Wait until there is a safe gap in the flow of cars and then ease slowly into the traffic circle.
  3. Watch out for other traffic in the circle and be aware that they may not be using their indicators correctly/at all. Stay in your lane.
  4. Keep a look out for and give way to pedestrians at crossings.
  5. Use your indicators:
  • Signal when you are going to turn – switch your indicator on immediately after passing the exit prior to the one you intend taking.
  • If you are taking the first exit (i.e. you’re turning left), then flick on your left indicator and keep in the outside/left-hand lane.
  • Keeping in the outside/left-hand lane also works well if you’re continuing straight ahead as your exit is very close. After you’ve passed the left turn exit and yours is next, signal left and you’re free. 
  • If you’re turning right or performing a U-turn, keep in the inside/right-hand lane. Only signal left and change into the left-hand lane once you’ve passed the other exits and only yours is ahead.

Rules to remember at a mini traffic circle:

  1. Slow down when approaching the circle. The first vehicle to cross the line has right of way, so it works on the same principle as a four-way stop or yield sign.
  2. Proceed in a clockwise direction around the circle.

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