Editorial: Roundabout debate comes full circle

Letter on proper roundabout usage has been challenged by numerous Langley drivers

A letter printed in the Times on Friday, May 6 has created quite a stir among readers.

We’ve received about a dozen responses so far to the letter, which suggests that most people are using roundabouts incorrectly. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to print them all.

Among the writers are people who are unhappy the original letter was printed to begin with, suggesting it is irresponsible to publish wrong information and that it can lead to accidents.

Publishing the letter wasn’t simply an attempt to draw more letters — though it did that.

Rather, we felt it offered the chance to start an important discussion about a confusing topic.

Several people seem to have interpreted the letter as suggesting that drivers should stop mid-circle to let another vehicle enter.

That is not the case.

Rather, the writer was suggesting it is proper to glance right before entering the circle, and to let others go ahead, rather than have traffic from one direction dominate the roundabout while it lines up in another.

That’s not the general understanding, nor apparently, is it correct.

His method, while possibly frustrating to other drivers,  is not likely to directly cause an accident, because he isn’t suggesting stopping the flow of traffic inside the circle.

Somewhat ironically, among the responses, pointing out the writer’s error, there remains disagreement about correct way to navigate a roundabout.

Some writers state that it is the law to use turn signals while inside the circle, others insist that this creates even more confusion and drivers should never do so.

Obviously, there is a long way to go before we have unanimous agreement on how to properly navigate a roundabout.

That’s a problem.

In this case, we will defer to the driving instructor, whose letter appears on the opposite page. She lays out very clearly the instructions as they have been established by Transport Canada.

Essentially, yield to the left; watch your speed; once in the roundabout, keep moving unless you’re forced to come to a stop; use your signals; and above all, watch for pedestrians and cyclists, who are at the greatest risk of being overlooked by drivers who are too focused on not missing their own turn in the circle.