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Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Posted
2 OCTOBER 2023
5 min read
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Roundabout habits

Roundabouts are a stressful manoeuvre for many, with almost one in six (14%) UK drivers saying they make city driving stressful. But how many drivers don’t know - or don’t follow - roundabout rules, putting themselves at risk of fines and jeopardising the safety of themselves and others?

The car insurance team at Compare the Market has surveyed UK drivers, to determine how many know the correct Highway Code rules relating to roundabouts - from signalling to giving way. The results revealed that many drivers seemingly need a roundabout refresh to help keep UK roads safe.

Drivers at risk of fines

According to the study, almost 6 million drivers could be at risk of landing a £50 non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice for failing to give way to the right at roundabout junctions. This is according to rule 185 of the Highway Code which states: “Always give priority to the traffic coming from the right, unless you have been directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights.” 
 
Furthermore, over half of UK licence holders (55%) could be at risk of the same fine due to driving over mini-roundabouts. Nearly half (48%) admit to driving over a raised roundabout and almost two-thirds (62%) to driving over a flat one. Rules 188 to 190 of the Highway Code reveal that when it comes to mini-roundabouts the regulations are no different from regular roundabouts - “It is important to remember that all vehicles must pass round the central markings, unless they are too large to do so. You will find that when driving around mini-roundabouts there is less room to manoeuvre and less time to signal, so take extra care.”

How many drivers are unaware of how to signal?

Looks like a quarter (25%) of drivers might need to re-read the Highway Code, or even do a little driver training, as they don’t know how to signal correctly when using a roundabout. In fact, over 1.2 million drivers say they don’t signal before they exit a roundabout, which could be considered as careless and inconsiderate driving, risking three to nine penalty points. What’s more, 3.75 million drivers only ‘occasionally' use their signals before they exit.  
 
Taking the first exit: One in seven (13%) drivers don’t know the correct way to signal when taking the first exit, with nearly one in ten (9%) believing they should indicate to the right. According to rule 186 of the Highway Code (unless signs and markings indicate otherwise) drivers should: 

  • Signal left and approach the exit in the left hand lane 
  • Keep to the left on the roundabout and signal left to leave 
     

Exiting to the right or going full circle: A large number of drivers don’t know how to indicate correctly when taking an exit to the right or going full circle. One in nine (11%) think they should indicate left when approaching the roundabout with a plan of taking the right exit, while a quarter (25%) think they should indicate right as they approach that exit. However, according to rule 186 of the Highway Code (unless signs or markings indicate otherwise) drivers should: 

  • Signal right and approach the exit in the right hand lane
  • Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to reach your exit 
  • Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take 
     

Taking an intermediate exit / driving straight through: When approaching a roundabout with the plan of driving straight through or taking an intermediate exit, one in five (20%) incorrectly believe they should indicate left when approaching the roundabout and a quarter (25%) believe they don’t need to indicate at all when approaching the exit. Yet, according to rule 186 of the Highway Code (unless signs or markings indicate otherwise) drivers should: 

  • Select the appropriate lane on approach to the roundabout 
  • Stay in the lane until you need to alter your lane to exit 
  • Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want to take 
Author image Julie Daniels

What our expert says...

 “Although you can take the same precautions at a roundabout as you would at any other junction, using a roundabout is considered a complex manoeuvre - it’s eye opening to find out how many drivers are unaware of the correct signals and manoeuvres, or simply ignore the rules put in place to keep themselves and other road users safe.  
 
“We encourage drivers to refresh their knowledge of proper procedures when using a roundabout junction to prevent fines and avoid any potential accidents.  
 
“In addition to learning - and doing - the correct manoeuvres, make sure you always slow your speed and give yourself enough time to react, watch out for pedestrian crossings, cyclists and drivers crossing the roundabout in the wrong lane and remember to use the mirror-signal-manoeuvre process, which involves checking your mirrors and signalling, before making your move.” 

- Julie Daniels, Motor insurance comparison expert

Sources and methodology

A survey of 2,012 UK licence holders over the age of 17 was conducted in August 2023 to determine habits and knowledge of roundabout rules. 

The Highway Code was researched and fines and rules were interpreted based on inconsiderate driving laws. 

The number of UK drivers is based on the number of Full Licence holders, over the age of 17, in the GB Driving Licence Data.  

Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie