Aug 122011

Here in Massachusetts, particularly in my neck of the woods (near Cape Cod), we have a lot of rotaries.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a rotary is, let me explain.  It’s a a circular shaped road junction where the traffic moves in one direction around a central island.  I’ve also heard rotaries referred to as traffic circles and roundabouts, but around here, they’re rotaries.  For someone that’s not experienced in driving their way through a rotary, they can be vicious – trust me, I know frirst hand.   I live about 30 seconds from one and drive through it daily.

Keep in mind that I proudly live amongst some of the worst drivers in the country (I am a masshole afterall), so this is definitley more of a survival guide than a how-to, but it should help you either way.

Rotaries actually keep the traffic moving a lot faster than conventional intersections with traffic lights & even though they may get backed up a little at rush hour, you’re not going to have to sit there long before it’s your turn to go.

The most important thing that people need to realize when approaching a rotary is that they are ONE WAY.  I’ve witnessed first hand cars going in the wrong direction inside the rotary.  Yes, really – three times as a matter of fact.

1.  When approaching a rotary, you should yield to oncoming traffic inside the rotary.  You are not required to stop! Only stop if there is no clearance for you to get inside the rotary – if there is no oncoming traffic inside the rotary and you stop upon approaching it – you’re probably going to get rear ended.  If there is no oncoming traffic, go!

It’s important to yield to the people already inside the rotary, though, because they have the right of way.

2.  Once there is space for you to get in – GO.  Literally, step on it and go. Don’t sit there & wait for a bigger gap in traffic because chances are, it’s not going to happen anytime soon and you’re really going to piss off the drivers in line behind you.  Take the chance you’re given when it comes along and GO!

3. Once you’re inside the rotary, stay on the outside and hop off at your exit.  Remember how the Griswold’s got stuck inside that rotary in London for hours?  Well, if you move over to the inside of the rotary, you will, too.

4.  If you can figure out what exit you need to get off at before you enter the rotary, that’s going to save you a headache for sure, but in case you miss your exit, DON’T STOP under any circumstances. If you do, you will get hit – it’s almost a guarantee.  Just go back around the rotary and catch it the next time.  Sure, we’re all going to point and laugh at you if we see you, but it’s better than causing an accident, right?   Oh, and as a sidenote, if you’re in MA, feel free to skip using your blinker when exiting the rotary – none of us use it, either.

5.  Watch out for others.  Some people just barrel into the rotary without yielding and if you’re not paying attention, yes, you’re going to get hit.  I see it every day…..and I know that’s hard to believe about us massholes, but it’s true.

Driving through a rotary is really not rocket science, you know. Just be careful and may the force be with you.

  16 Responses to “How to Survive Driving Through a Rotary”

  1. perfect description. yet why is the rotary on the way to Brant Rock area called a ‘turn-about’ ? cute name, though.

  2. Love this post. I grew up in CT & we didn’t have any. I moved to PA & someone was giving me directions & said “… when you get to the circle…” I had NO idea – it was ugly lol!! 17 yrs later & I stil can’t get the hang of them lol!

  3. Lived with roundabouts for ages and loved them. In England a lot of them are big enough and with enough exits that you can use the inner and outer lanes. Wish there were more of them stateside. The only ones I’ve come across near our house are a couple in a shopping area.

  4. So yea at the end of my street they decided to build not one BUT TWO! Yea so you get out of one about 50 feet there is another talk about stupid mass! So Robin if you ever visit me (cough::tearoom::cough) you will see that… I barrel through it like everyone else and trust me even tho they are 2 years old people STILL hit people maybe because it is 50 feet away I am not sure its like a sneak up attack or something but yea I get soooo mad and I am a beeper soooo if you stop at the rotary and there is someone way far away I am going to beep oh and open my windows and call you derogatory names too…

  5. I grew up in Buzzards Bay. The summers were the WORST! Going around the rotaries with all those tourists that had no idea how to drive around a rotary. I still remember the horror all these 30 something years later. lol

    Great tips. Hope the tourists read them! lol

  6. We don’t have those here on the West Coast, but when we were in Europe very recently, HOLY COW!!! And for us, driving on the right side of the car, left lane everything was bassackwards! LOL. They were a little freaky at first.

  7. in some US states/foreign countries, the person coming onto the circle has the right of way, in some, the person already on the circle has the right of way. hence the confusion…

  8. How funny! It never occurred to me that you didn’t have roundabouts! They are everywhere in the UK and one town has a very peculiar setup with one massive one and 5 small ones at every exit!

  9. These types of intersections always looked confusing. Thanks for the very easy to understand explanation.

    Stumbled this for you,

  10. We call them roundabouts here in Florida, and they seem to be increasing in popularity. I think city planners believe they look classier or cultured or something 🙂

    Found your post from the Stumble Upon weekend hop.

  11. I grew up in Mass. Right off 128. I’m in NH now and they built one near where my husband works. They’re calling at a ’roundabout’. I like rotary so much better. Except up here they think I’m talking about the rotary club.

  12. We have “traffic circles” but they have one major difference (that would likely get me killed in Mass) — the approaches all have stop signs. So if I am ever fortunate enough to drive there, I am now well prepared! 🙂

  13. i am very comfortable in rotaries..and go cruising husband from the west coast..ractically gets us killed he’s so timid and unused to them

  14. I hate driving through a rotary when I have a bunch of people in my car. You explained it in a perfect way preventing any accidents. Thank you

  15. I know this is an old post, but I thought I’d post some information. The Massachusetts Driver’s Manual has the actual rules outlined pretty well, and there are times where you are required to use the inner lane; going all the way around on the outside is a big no-no.

    From Chapter 4 of the state’s Driver’s Manual ( ):
    “If the rotary has multiple lanes, look for signs to help you choose the proper lane. If there are no signs, you should do the following:

    *For a quarter turn, or to continue straight ahead, enter the rotary from the right lane. Stay in that lane, and exit onto the right lane.

    *For a three-quarter turn, or a U-turn, enter the rotary from the left lane. Travel through the middle or inner lane. Exit onto the right lane. If coming from a road with a single lane, you should stay in the right lane for the entire turn.”

    • I am working in boston for 3 months and I hate using them. I follow the rules (we have round a bouts in St Louis so no biggie) and still almost get hit by people just about everytime. I don’t think my nerves can handle much more of boston driving and I have only been here 3 days