Tips for riding roundabouts safely

Roundabouts

Roundabouts are a particular danger for riders not being seen by drivers as this video clearly shows.

Even though rider Brendan Sellers, 30, of Adelaide is wearing bright red and white leathers and is on a bright red Kawasaki Ninja on a clear and sunny day, the Honda sedan driver just drives straight out in front of him.

Peachey/petherton roundabout tuesday 20-11-18 @ 4:30pm.Honda driver blatently failed to give-way as can be seen by his position entering the roundabout (as far left as he could go).He almost caused a severe accident.Open your eyes i have a right to return home safely as every one does, the 2 seconds they saved could have cost me dearly with no recourse for thier blatant stupidity

Publiée par Brendan Sellers sur Mercredi 21 novembre 2018

Brendan posted the video on Dashcams Adelaide to alert drivers to open their eyes.

“I have a right to return home safely as every one does,” he writes. “The two seconds they saved could have cost me dearly with no recourse for their blatant stupidity.”

Many riders have experienced similar situations at roundabouts and wonder why drivers either don’t see us or deliberately ignore us.

While roundabouts were designed to be safer than 90-degree intersections, even Austroads has acknowledged the danger for riders.

They have called for physical changes to roundabouts to make them safer for vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, scooterists and cyclists. Click here to read more.

ROUNDABOUTS: PROBLEMS

There can be a number of reasons why vehicles drive out in front of riders that can be attributed to both the nature of a roundabout and the attitude of drivers.

Traffic flow

Austroads says Australian roundabouts are designed to allow plenty of vision so traffic can continue to flow, rather than coming to a complete stop every time.

They rarely have stop signs, only give-away or simply roundabout signs.roundabouts signs

This means drivers are not preparing or hoping to come to a full stop. They are anticipating a smooth flow through the roundabout. Some even straight-line the roundabout without slowing at all.

Approaching speed

At a crossroads intersection, drivers can have a difficult time estimating the approaching speed of a rider coming at them from a 90-degree angle.

When the rider is changing direction around a roundabout, it may be even more difficult to estimate their approach speed, so drivers can misjudge and drive out in front of them.

Blind spots

Since the rider isn’t approaching them from 90 degrees, but more like 60 degrees, that places them in the car’s A-pillar blind spot not in the driver’s window.

With curtain airbags in many modern cars, this pillar is thick and can easily obscure a narrow motorcycle.

SMIDSY crash roundabouts
Jaguar has recognised this problem with their “invisible” pillars. Click here to read more.

No threat

Of course, there is also the theory that a small motorcycle is not received as much of a threat compared with a vehicle the same size or bigger.

Consequently, some drivers have a tendency to miscalculate the risks.

There is also less of a perceived risk when the impending crash is more of a glancing blow of “sideswipe” because of the approach angle on a roundabout, rather than a head-in or t-bone crash at a crossroads intersection.

ROUNDABOUTS: SOLUTIONS

We’ve heard it all before, but we need to approach a roundabout the same way we approach any riding – ride like everyone else is out to get you!

There are many other scenarios at roundabouts other than the one above. All require a lot of caution and attention.

Roundabouts road safety rules
A typical sideswipe crash at a roundabout

Slow and cautious

That means a slow and cautious approach. Grab a lower gear and cover your gently apply the brakes.

If you need to stop you have already set up the brakes and just need to apply more pressure.

If you need to avoid a car by speeding up, then you have the right gear selected.

Look left right and behind

Obviously you need to look to your right to slow for traffic on the roundabout (opposite in left-drive countries).

But you also need to look left for vehicles stealing your right of way. Make sure you look the driver right in the eye to see that they have actually seen you.

If they haven’t, maybe give a quick blast of the horn to attract their attention. Don’t flash your lights was this is both illegal and could give the wrong impression that you are letting them go in front of you.

Rear-enders

You also need eyes in the back of your head!

Many riders are rear-ended at roundabouts. This is because they may be cautiously approaching and probably stopping while the traffic behind is anticipating continued progress and shunt the rider from behind.

Loud pipes?

The rider in the top video vents his frustration by loudly revving his bike. That really does nothing to alert the driver and it’s after the incident, anyway.

However, Brendan’s response and frustration is understandable as he was injured in a SMIDSY crash in January this year.

“I had a driver do the SMIDSY and pull straight out in front of me as I was going around a bend,” Brendan says.

“That resulted in me slamming into the front right of his car. Bike was a write-off and I spent five months in a cast, nine months out of work and a permanent screw in my left scaphoid.

“So as you can tell I hate people who drive carelessly.”

If you believe drivers have not seen you, a short blast on the horn might do more to attract attention than a loud exhaust. But that’s another debate!

 

13 Comments

  1. The only safe roundabout is the single lane version. Double laned ones are just an accident waiting to happpen. To have 2 drivers parallel beside each other, and assuming the inner one will just continue circling around indefinately, when they want to exit is rubbish.
    When the rider is in the outer lane, that rider will be in microseconds have to make a decision:
    That car/truck/bus/ semi trailer in the inner is:
    a) exiting straight ahead
    b) continuing around
    c) assuming that both vehicles are exiting, as the inner vehicle at that point cannot see either indicators flash.

    The outer ring lane is more safer than the inner, but not by much. If the human brain needs 1 second to make any decision, and another second to carry that out, it’s all too late.
    The only safe double ring roundabouts were in Redcliffe Qld when the then Council made the outer ring an exit only option at every intersection. You could not continue on to another exit. Once you moved to the outer, you exited at the next road.
    Then the State Gov on RACQ’s superior wisdom, agitated to change to the Canadian Alberta style which we have now, and it is a complete failure for motorcyclists.
    If you have ever driven a single cab truck with a box body, you soon realise that you can only use the side mirrors. If you have to slow down approaching a roundabout, your effectively blind to any rider or car coming from the left side. It’s a terrible feeling indeed to have very limited vision and have to use these daily and having to exit around a double laned roundabout, and know it’s a accident waiting to happen.

  2. Couple of other problems: many rounderbouts have a lot vegetation on them, which becomes so long, cars, especial low sports cars can see across them. The local councils do mow and trim them but not often enough.
    Cutting the lanes – many times a car on the outside lane will try to ‘straight-line the rounderbout, going from LHS, RHS on the rounderbout, and back to the LHS lane again.

  3. I agree with others in that drivers just don’t care who is on the roundabout, car drivers or motorcyclists. I was driving a car on a roundabout. I was clearly already on the roundabout when a ute pulled out in front of me. The driver was looking at me. I braked and tooted the horn and all I got was a fist and fingers in the air as he drove across the roundabout. It happens often when I am on the bike but I take it very cautiously now, always expecting the cars and trucks to pull out in front of me. There are never any police around at the time so why should they uphold the laws.

  4. Biggest problem I see with motorbikes and roundabouts is the speed they are going on approach. Forcing your right of way going too fast means nothing if someone pulls out in front of you.

  5. “Bike was a right-off and I spent five months in a cast”… The bike was right-off what? Or perhaps you meant write-off (as in “written-off”)?
    I expect that sort of crap from the BS propaganda papers, but I expect better from you.

  6. Ah, yes, roundabouts. The fact that one is supposed to approach with caution and give way to vehicles already on the roundabout is sadly lost on most drivers (those roundabouts with the triangular give way sign with the roundabout symbol in the middle). I give way to my right because the vehicle screaming down the road from there isn’t about to stop any time soon and I’m not dying to prove I have right of way. Roundabouts are just so very, very simple and easy, but nobody I’ve ever asked whether they’ve taken the time to actually read the rules and understand them has answered in the positive. The usual excuse is they haven’t got the time……to read a few paragraphs and look at a few pictures.

    1. You hit the nail on the head “give way to traffic already on the roundabout” when most motorist’s think it’s “give way to traffic approaching from your right”. Either educate, enforce or change the rule.

  7. One of the biggest problems with roundabouts is most aren’t actually real roundabouts they are some kind of sub standard bad joke slapped in anywhere that needs lights but they don’t want to pay for them. This is the case with about 99% of them in this country.
    They are often made with absolutely no consideration for pedestrians and when there is a crosswalk in place it is something stupidly slapped in in the wrong place.
    The other problem is the total lack of education in how to negotiate them, if there was a course on drivers ed at school roundabouts would be about three full days of instruction.

    It isn’t just bikes that get ignored at roundabouts, I’ve seen idiots just drive straight on through without ever looking anywhere but straight ahead even when there is a truck coming.
    Looking someone in the eyes is absolutely no garrantee that they see you! I’ve had them look me in the eye and still pull out and claim they didn’t see me when I’m in my large cage with the headlights on.

    When going through a rab you want to not be committed to any one course of action, so you need to be as upright as possible in as low a gear as the power of the bike demands and be ready to go bush in a blink. Roundabouts are about the only place where laying the bike down might be the best option, you don’t want to end up under someone’s wheels , jumping on to a bonnet and letting the bike hit could save you .

  8. The statement about Air Bags on the door pillars is spot on. My wife drives a 2011 Subaru Impreza and the blind spot on the drivers side is really bad in round abouts due to it’s width and this is exacerbated by the ‘factory weather shield.

  9. We are smaller and vunerable I believe the cages don’t care because we can’t hurt them a big Truck they realise would crush them .Same type of repose as the penile challedged souls who move over to stop bikes lane filtering

  10. A lot of drivers just want to beat you at the roundabout, they see you but because they are bigger they just adopt a bully attitude, even when I use my horn to make them aware of my presence they still proceed to cut me off. what we need is education, particularly drivers don’t realize that a motorcycle leaning around the roundabout cannot stop like a car, all drivers should come on the back of the bike to feel what its all about. We should have loud horns to use through traffic to mark our presence like it s done in China. If drivers were penalized when not giving way to a motorcycle, they would start to respect the 2 wheelers.

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