The truth about roundabouts

I must reply to the letter you published on Wednesday, 7 January. It saddens me that you would publish a letter so full of mistakes that it is dangerous, to say the least, but could also be deadly.

Roundabouts are a problem here for several reasons:

1) A high percentage of drivers come from countries that do not have roundabouts and are therefore inexperienced in using these correctly. It is a pity that drivers are able to obtain a Cayman license by showing there own national license without having to take a road test. I frequently come across drivers from overseas who have a license but cannot drive at all, having obtained their license there with a cash incentive rather than a road test.

2)There was a period of about three years when someone who should have known better was telling drivers who were taking the practical road test that they should never use the inner lane because it was too dangerous. It is gratifying that the present excellent examiners understand how roundabouts should be used.

My book, Drive Safely in Cayman, has gone to almost 2,000 drivers each year since 1996. For the past two years there have been 10 illustrations dealing with roundabouts. What is in the book is based on many in-depth conversations with responsible people and, in fact, the UK as well as the New Zealand driving authorities. Does anyone think I would have published something made up out of my own head?

The procedures are quite clear and can be found on pages 52-57 of the book. (Pages 46-51 in the earlier 2008 edition.)

Briefly, on a two lane approach to a large roundabout one should decide in advance which is the correct lane to be in. Take the example of passing Alista Towers, the Humane Society and approaching the Butterfield roundabout. If you intend to drive through to Eastern Avenue, you must be in the left lane and indicate left. You must give way to vehicles already on the roundabout and approaching your entry point from your right. If you intend to pass the twelve o’clock (straight ahead) point and drive through to the industrial area, you must approach in the right lane and indicate right. Again, you must give way to vehicles already on the roundabout and approaching your entry point from your right. You should continue around the inner lane. At that point you must indicate left, look over your left shoulder to ensure that a bad driver is not overtaking on the outside lane and driving around in front of you to head toward an exit further around.

If you intend to proceed to the Harquail by-pass, as it is commonly called, you may be in either lane. If you are in the right-hand lane, you must indicate right and keep to the inner lane until you are level with the Eastern Avenue exit. At that point you must indicate left, look over your left shoulder to ensure that a bad driver is not overtaking on the outside lane as mentioned previously.

In summary:

Drivers should never overtake on a roundabout.

Drivers should always indicate as appropriate when entering or exiting a roundabout.

Drivers should always give way to vehicles already on a roundabout and approaching from their right.

You should always give way to a vehicle on your right and in front of you but moving to the left.

Personal chattering between a driver and passengers should stop so the driver can concentrate and watch the surrounding traffic scene.

Why does anyone think there is an illustration on page 53 (was 47) specifically dealing with the above situation? It is there because there are accidents on this roundabout almost every day.

In my view, it is the National Roads Authority’s job to build our roads. The Ministry’s job is to define our driving standards and set the rules and laws in place with the guidance of the Department of Vehicle and Driver licensing. It is the job of the police to enforce the law.

There are too many people voicing there opinions on this matter. Even those who are considered to be ‘experts’ have, in fact, limited, if any, professional experience in teaching driving.

Graham Walker

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