In this article I want to explain how teach your students to handle roundabouts a skill that many pupils go round and round in circles over! – sorry a joke!
By the way, if you are learning to drive you can still use this to understand what you should be learning from your instructor and if your not – get them to read this article!
Introduction – essential skills
1.Emerging and approaching
Firstly, make sure that your pupil have a good grasp of emerging and approaching from both junctions and crossroads before they attempt a roundabout, as roundabouts are really a form of open junction in most cases.
2. Rolling exits and edging forward
Additionally, they should be competent at edging forward slowly using the clutch and able to perform safe rolling exits in second or first gear.
3. Moving off without stalling
Moreover, they should be able to move off without stalling using the handbrake or ‘on the fly’. This is important because the handling of roundabouts is often difficult for a novice driver to achieve, as everything they have learnt so far is being used on approach – allot of multi-tasking is going on so don’t distract them with too much talking!
As an idea, maybe revisit the ‘signals’ lesson before attempting roundabouts as signalling correctly is an important part of their roundabout training.
Stage 1 – Easy roundabout
First start with a suitable small roundabout: with little traffic; no sign or no road markings and lanes to deal with; and teach them the basic principles:
Routine on approach
Explain – ESSENTIAL approach routine – Mirrors, Signal, Position (lane) Speed, gear and Look
Begin with the easier first exit left and move around the clock face handling straight ahead and to the right .
Encourage them to ‘talk out’ the routine on approach so they learn it and concentrate – it will also slow them down!
For the first couple of times, suggest they do the mirror and signal in early so they can concentrate on a slow approach: arriving at under ten miles per hour and in first gear – so they have plenty of time to concentrate and look early to the right. The earlier they look the more prepared they are going to be when they actually arrive.
Emphasise ‘brakes to a slow’ rather than gears as its easy to be distracted by gears – steering, slowing down and looking are far more important for safety!
If it’s open to the right and clear, teach them how when appropriate, to sometimes approach and ‘go’ in second gear.
As they are approach ask the question: “is it safe to go?”
Explain – when and where they should indicate coming off.
When they are competent at this basic roundabout, experiment with a block change on approach – with gear changes from 3 to 1 and 4 to 2.
Stage 2 – Medium roundabout
When they are reasonably competent with a basic roundabout progress to roundabouts with a few more challenges: a little busier, has lanes on approach and some signage. Again, start with a first exit left and move around the clock face ending with right turns. Encourage them to ‘give themselves time’ by approaching slowly until they build up experience. Discourage rash decision making – it’s dangerous!
Make sure they understand the 12 o clock rule: whereby if the exit is past 12 on a clock face then its probably the right-hand lane that they need. Explain that more often is the case, the left hand lane is going to be the correct one.
As they approach ask them: “what lane are you going to be in?”
“Which exit are you going to take?” Teach them to think and plan ahead.
Again emphasise the M S M, P S g L on approach and start to get them to read lane signs and the roundabout signs for themselves early.
When actually on the roundabout, teach them about the danger of straying across lanes: “keep in your lane, don’t cross the white line unless you have a reason”
Explain how its important to notice any speed limit change signs on the entrance or exit to roundabouts. (Ask them). Its easy to miss these as the pupil is so intent on dealing with the roundabout and the traffic.
What speed and gear?
On approach ask them the question: “What speed and gear are you going to arrive in? “ – expect a reply!
Make sure they look to the right and ahead early and often.
Entering the roundabout
Explain why they must not emerge into the roundabout if they can’t see too the right (say view blocked by a vehicle in the right-hand lane.
Encourage them to keep the car slightly moving (inching forward) when nearly stopped, if they can, because a moving car accelerates faster. I call this Rolls Royce driving.
Explain when to use the handbrake. For example: once the handbrake is engaged the moving off is going to take longer to execute. On the other hand, if fast and secure ‘take off’ is required then the handbrake/biting point method is often the best as the biting point and gas are set.
Explain how to ‘read’ and gauge what other drivers are going to do. For example, if someone is already on the roundabout then cars to the right may not be able to move off so are not an issue Etc.
Make sure they know to take off fast if needed! (sometimes if they have not quite judged the speed of the car coming towards them correctly, its better for them to use acceleration to get out of danger. )
Explain the danger of stalling as you emerge when rolling (normally because your in second gear and going too slow) – the car behind goes into the back of you because they are not looking!
Example 1: One of my pupils, on his test, approached a very easy and open roundabout in second gear. Unfortunately, he slowed down too much (2 mph) because he though a car to the right was coming his way (poor indicator). When he realised he could in fact go, he forgot he was in second gear, didn’t put on any gas and the car stalled in the middle of the roundabout! At this point the pupil panicked and instead of engaging the handbrake and restarting he continued to roll and failed the test!
Example 2: My pupil stopped at a busy roundabout in gear 2 and engaged the handbrake. She then rushed to move off without setting the gas and forgetting she was in second gear. The car moved forward a few feet and then stalled. Unfortunately, the car behind us didn’t realise we hadn’t in fact moved off and read-ended us! Fortunately, the only thing damaged was a bit of pride – especially the driver behind us who wasn’t paying attention!
Signals and Mirrors
Make sure they deal with any indicators clicking off accidentally (especially when turning right) and why.
Make sure they learn to signal with good timing on exiting the roundabout and understand why.
Make sure they make good use of the left mirror on exiting when turning right and why.
Stage 3 – Harder roundabouts
1. A roundabout with a closed view to the right means approach slowly in a low gear. Ask them the question: “how much can you see to the right?” to hint as to the correct solution.
2. Approaching a roundabout on a hill. Be prepared to use the handbrake and first gear.
3. Approaching a roundabout down a hill. Make sure control the approach as the car will travel faster.
4. Large roundabout with fast moving traffic.
5. Small mini-roundabout with fast traffic
6. Double mini roundabouts.
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First time pass of 2015 1 minor!
Thomas – zero minors!
Teaching very thorough
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