Listening to the traffic jam – Round and round it goes

Where you end up, nobody knows… not unless you signal at least. In this category, as announced, I will rant about the North American traffic in the shape of a little miniseries. Now once I finish this, I will still come back to revisit this topic whenever I have a neat anecdote to tell. To the pleasure of hopefully everyone. Or just me.

So what is there to say about roundabouts? A lot, frankly. I shall only refer to some main aspects. They spread out from the UK in the 50s and slowly but surely got popular around the world. Now, I personally can only tell from how they were introduced in Germany, oddly enough in Eastern Germany first, and people understood how they worked pretty much right away. After Germany reunited they found their way into the west, much to the despair of the Western Germans. (They might have been there before, but if, then only sparce.) Lots of Western Germans complained and battled them like Don Quixote, not understanding or not wanting to understand how they work. Sooner or later, however, they figured it out as well and that’s how they have been taught during the time I was in driving school as well. Driving school and how you learn to drive will be another topic, by the way…

Granted, being a curious passenger with my parents, I learned a lot about the way of driving, and thus the roundabouts even before getting my license. So that might be an unfair advantage, but here’s the simple breakdown:

  1. You approach the roundabout and yield to any incoming traffic.
  2. Once the coast is clear, you turn into the roundabout, not signaling.
  3. Before your exit you start signaling out of roundabout until you leave it. (That would mean right signal, unless you live in one of the few crazy countries that like to drive on the wrong side of the road.)

That implies that while you approach the roundabout and see someone signaling, you can easily just drive into it, knowing that the person signaling will exit and not bother you. That works pretty much perfectly in Germany.

Here in North America however… it’s a chaos. Literally only about 5% of the drivers that I see in a roundabout know how to use it. And of those, I just had a friend of mine mention how he signals into the roundabout, if he takes the third exit, in order to tell the other people that you go all around. That’s frankly quite confusing, since you might not know where the car started to drive.

So, my dear North Americans, why can you not simply follow the rules of a roundabout? It is really quite simple. A lot of them even have signs telling you to signal when you exit. It can’t get easier than this.

Alas, I shall not just rant, but also give a bit of a possible solution. In Germany we have a lot of public announcements, through all major newspapers and local gazettes as well as through all major TV stations. That way whenever there is a new change in the traffic law or anything like that, people will find out about it. Something like that could easily be applied here, or even send a letter to everyone with a license. Surely it will cost some money, but reducing the accidents will definitely save some money.

So, thanks for letting me rant… well, like you had a choice. I will re-visit this topic soon.

In that regard…

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