The ins and outs of roundabout etiquette
EAGLE COUNTY – The “Tipsline” calls have been coming in fast. The topic: How to drive in the roundabouts.Nearly every caller has a different view of the “proper” way to negotiate roundabouts: Stay on the inside until ready to turn. Yes, but, the person on the inside has the right of way. Yes, but… And on it goes.
“Most of those people are probably right,” Avon Police Officer Chris Peck said. The fact is, there are only two hard-and-fast, set-in-statute rules for driving through roundabouts: Yield to vehicles in the roundabout when entering, and use a turn signal when leaving the circle. Other than that, it’s kind of up to individuals, Peck said. And that’s where common sense comes in.”I take my time and go slow,” said Dave Dunn, a manager at the West Vail Stop n’ Save. Dunn, who has driven in roundabouts in Europe and the East Coast, said his personal roundabout rules have worked well for him over the years.”If you’re going to the first or second exit, stay in the outside lanes,” he said. “If you’re going farther, get in the inside lane.” The inside/outside question is answered differently by different people.
“We talk about it in the barbershop, and there are people who swear by staying on the inside,” said Janice Cetera of Timberline Barbers in West Vail. When she’s headed home to Gypsum through the West Vail roundabout, she stays in the outside lane until she gets on Interstate 70.”It just makes sense,” she said. But, she added, people trying to get to I-70 from the inside lane will sometimes give her the one-finger salute if they think they’ve been cut off by a car in the outside lane.In Avon, etiquette can vary not just from driver to driver, but from roundabout to roundabout.Along William J. Post Boulevard – the street that links I-70 and Highway 6 near Wal-Mart – most traffic is headed either north or south, without a lot of east-west traffic in the mix. There, drivers seem to stay on the inside lanes until they exit. The rules seem a little different at the intersection of Highway 6 and Avon Road near the entrance to Beaver Creek. Drivers going east through the roundabout almost universally stay in the right lane. And that’s fine.”If you want to stay in the outside lane and go around all day, you can,” Peck said. “The biggest mistake I see is when the person on the inside thinks they can exit without yielding to traffic on the outside,” said Avon Police Officer Mike Lundblade, who created the town’s brochure on roundabout safety.Trucks or, more precisely, the room big rigs need to get around a roundabout, can lure some drivers into danger, Lundblade said. Drivers in cars often try to take the inside lane around a big rig, only to get squeezed into trouble when the truck has to head toward the middle of the road.Dealing with other vehicles alongside in two-lane roundabouts can create trouble even for cars, Peck said.
“It’s not good to go in side by side,” Peck said. “If both drivers are good, it works, but we urge people to go in staggered.”With the variety of opinions that abound about driving through multi-lane roundabouts, Cetera is happy to get home to Gypsum and its single, one-lane roundabout.”Gypsum’s is really smooth,” she said. “An idiot could figure out that one.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado