Motorists urged to exercise caution at roundabouts

Courtesy and awareness at roundabouts form main plank of Abu Dhabi’s latest traffic safety campaign message.

The multi-lane roundabout near Carrefour on Airport Road in Abu Dhabi is tough to negotiate. Ravindranath K / The National
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ABU DHABI // Motorists are being urged to exercise caution, adjust their speed and maintain lane discipline when using roundabouts, police and experts have said.

“The traffic rules apply to roundabouts,” said Lt Col Jamal Al Ameri, head of public relations at Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate. “Stick to the speed limit, give way and do not overtake where you might come in conflict with other vehicles.”

Although he did not have accident statistics to hand, Lt Col Al Ameri said overtaking is a leading cause of accidents at roundabouts.

This year's Gulf Traffic Week in Abu Dhabi, which concludes on Thursday, is centred on the theme Your Choice Determines Your Destiny, reflecting on the importance of wise decision-making.

Drivers should not change lanes inside a roundabout without good reason, said Khaled Al Mansoori, chief executive at Emirates Driving Company (EDC).

“Before entering a roundabout, drivers need to use the right-hand indicator for turning right, and use the left-hand indicator for turning left or for making a U-turn,” Mr Al Mansoori said. “Use the right-hand indicator while exiting a roundabout. The lane you used to enter the roundabout should be the same while exiting to avoid accidents due to lane changing.”

A theoretical driving exam and an enhanced practical training and assessment are needed to ensure drivers learn how to navigate a roundabout, said Darren Male, 40, a regional health, safety, security and environmental manager at Fugro in Dubai.

“Inadequate training is complicated further when the roundabout has traffic lights or the driver waiting to join the roundabout is being harassed by the one behind him or her,” he said.

EDC provides a one-hour theory lesson on driving in roundabouts followed by internal and practical training that runs for 70 to 120 minutes, depending on a student’s driving skills and experience.

When there is a roundabout, priority will be given to whoever is coming from the left, according to the UAE federal traffic law.

“Even if you have the priority entering the roundabout, stop for the driver who may cause a collision,” Mr Al Mansoori said.

The most common mistakes are sudden stops, heavy braking and lane deviation, said Dino Kalivas, the International Road Federation chairman of driver education and training.

“Manage your approach speed and roundabout exit speed carefully, and observe signs, speed humps and all hazards,” he said. “Don’t rush, leave a margin as other drivers make mistakes. In heavy traffic, be patient.”

Drivers need to learn how to safely deal with simple and complex and multi-lane roundabouts.

In Abu Dhabi, the multi-lane roundabout near Carrefour on Airport Road can be a problem, even for the most experienced drivers.

“It can be quite a challenge, especially during peak hour traffic,” said Hassan Al Jabri, a 46-year-old office manager in Abu Dhabi. “When there is a continuous flow of cars and the roundabout is congested, we need to be patient, make sure the roundabout is clear before entering, check our mirrors and use our indicators properly.”