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Is Driving An RV Through a Roundabout Dangerous?

Is Driving An RV Through a Roundabout Dangerous?

When driving an RV, you must plan your route wisely. You must keep your eyes peeled for low clearances, tight turns, and weight limits. If not, you could find yourself in quite a predicament. However, roundabouts are gaining popularity and creating confusion for many RVers who have never driven them in a car, let alone an RV. So can you drive an RV through a roundabout? Let’s take a look.

What Is a Roundabout?

Roundabouts are a type of traffic intersection that convert four-way stops into four-way yields. Traffic flows counterclockwise in a circular manner, and vehicles yield to those vehicles already in the roundabout. These help increase the flow of traffic and reduce congestion in high-traffic areas. However, they can be extremely confusing and dangerous for inexperienced drivers or those who misuse them.

entering a roundabout in a class A motorhome
I’m not going to lie; making an approach like this in a big RV can be nerve-wracking, even for the experienced driver.

Can You Drive an RV Through a Roundabout?

Let’s just say this; we have never met a roundabout we couldn’t navigate in an RV. However, there will be a few in tighter cities that larger vehicles cannot make it through. While we have come across roundabouts that are tight in Europe, here in the US, roundabouts are typically designed to accommodate a variety of vehicles, including RVs. Many times if there is a tight roundabout, you will see signs beforehand noting NO TRUCKS. This is a good sign not to go that way in an RV.

RV driving through a roundabout
When traveling in Europe, roundabouts are the most common intersection type; some can be very tight.

Even though it may seem too tight to navigate as you approach, with some practice, you will find yourself confident in any roundabout. You’ll need to take it slow and make a wide turn when navigating through the intersection. Depending on the type of RV you’re driving or towing, you need to watch your mirrors to ensure your wheels clear the curbs to avoid causing damage to your RV or vehicle.

The basic rules of making turns with a large vehicle need to be understood. You should be comfortable with how much your vehicle off tracks and have a good understanding of its limits. In a Class A, you may need to get used to swinging the nose over a curb if your steering wheels are behind you. Here is a great video demonstrating the basic driving principles of a large vehicle. This is for a motorhome, but similar rules apply to tow behind RVs.

How to Drive a Motorhome/RV — Driving Tips: Off-Tracking & Rear Overhang

Roundabouts Are On the Rise

If you feel like you’re experiencing more and more roundabouts while driving, it’s because you are. These traffic control intersections began in the United Kingdom in the early 1900s, but the United States didn’t adopt them until the 1990s. However, their incredible effectiveness has caused them to become used more frequently in recent years.

While there were less than 500 in the year 2000, there are nearly 9,000 roundabouts in the U.S. While they were most common in bigger cities, they now appear in rural areas and suburbs. 

If you’re not comfortable or inexperienced with roundabouts, don’t expect them to go away. While they might seem weird at first, their design allows traffic to keep moving and actually increases vehicle throughput. They also increase safety as vehicles must slow for them and are less likely to miss them like a stop sign.

Pro Tip: New to RVing? We uncovered The Truth About Driving an RV for the First Time.

Roundabout entry sign
Roundabouts are becoming more common within the U.S.

Is It Illegal to Drive All the Way Around a Roundabout?

Once a driver enters a roundabout, there are no rules or regulations that state they have to exit it. When drivers use a roundabout correctly, there should be no need to circle it more than once, even when driving in multi-lane roundabouts. If a driver needs to make a U-turn, driving around a roundabout is the easiest and most efficient way. If you miss your exit road or are unsure which one to take, there is no problem staying in the roundabout until you figure it out.

What Is Not Permitted in a Roundabout?

While there are very few rules specifically for a roundabout, there are some. Drivers must give larger trucks, buses, and trailers plenty of space and not ride beside them. While the lanes are the same size as normal driving lanes, it’s nearly impossible for larger vehicles to stay in the lanes while making these turns. Always give these vehicles plenty of space for maneuvering through the roundabout.

In a multi-lane roundabout, there is one additional rule. Driving beyond one exit roundabout in the outside lane is not permitted. Usually, there is a line denoting the exit lane, and you should only be in it if you are between the last road and your next exit. This allows the inside traffic to keep moving and exit as needed.

navigating a large roundabout
Stay out of the outside line unless you are making an exit beyond the last road you passed. Roundabouts this large are uncommon in the US.

How to Navigate Your RV Through a Roundabout

Knowing how to drive an RV through a roundabout can be challenging, even for drivers experienced with roundabouts in passenger vehicles. So what do you need to know to help drive an RV through a roundabout? Let’s take a closer look.

Who Has Priority in a Roundabout?

No matter what type of vehicle you’re driving, vehicles already in the intersection always have priority. Driving a larger vehicle will likely require you to use both lanes of traffic at some point during your maneuver. Because of this, you want to wait until the intersection is entirely free of vehicles and you have plenty of space to make your maneuver.

You should continually watch your mirrors for vehicles not giving you space to make your maneuver and watch for any objects like signs and lamp posts that might be near the road.

Tom driving in a roundabout
That’s Tom driving in a roundabout, Navigating through a roundabout can be intimidating if you are not used to the traffic flow.

What Is the Speed Limit in Roundabouts?

Speed limits for roundabouts vary based on the intersection. However, they’re typically between 15 and 25 miles per hour. Look for any signs indicating recommended speeds for the intersection to help keep you and others safe.

You should be going slow enough to stop at the intersection if necessary. As a result, you’ll likely enter the intersection at a crawl. This isn’t the time or place to accelerate quickly, so take your time and navigate the roundabout at a safe speed.

Empty roundabout
Always yield to drivers already in the roundabout.

How Do You Not Hesitate at a Roundabout?

The key to not hesitating at a roundabout is confidence. Knowing how a roundabout works can give you the confidence to make decisions while you drive. Since roundabouts are new for many drivers, it’s important always to be aware of others who might not know how to use them properly.

Hesitating at a roundabout is a major reason why individuals get in rear-end collisions at these intersections. The driver behind you may assume that you’re planning to go, and if you slam on the brakes and change your mind, they might not be able to react in time.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to RV throughout Europe, make sure you know these 10 Things Tourists Do Wrong when driving an RV in Europe.

Is Driving an RV Through a Roundabout Dangerous?

Learning to drive an RV through a roundabout doesn’t have to be stressful. Driving in a roundabout is only dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. You should use more caution when navigating a roundabout with an RV or any other large vehicle. Doing so can help you avoid an accident or other dangerous situations.

As we’ve said, always research your route and ensure it’s safe for you and your RV. It can take some time, but it will save you some stress and help you avoid damaging your rig.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Robert Kenny

Thursday 26th of January 2023

your photo showing a roundabout sign is wrong for the US, it shows driving on the left side like in UK.

Chazman

Saturday 21st of January 2023

I totally disagree. I have seen (what we call) rotaries turned into roundabouts and the result is disastrous. Roundabouts complicate and confuse. At least every one I have seen has. And I am not alone in my thinking on this by any means.

Ray Davis

Saturday 21st of January 2023

The Roundabouts are now frequently encountered in upstate NY. The drivers around your Rv, that typically show disregard for other drivers are the biggest challenge. NY state reported a few years ago that the changes from traffic signals to Rotary's or Traffic Circles led to a reduction in serious vehicle crashes, however, the report also stated that the minor crashes had significantly increased. One day I actually watched someone put on their left turn signal and attempt to drive directly into two lanes of oncoming traffic. The result? I don't know, I took the right lane and got outta there quickly. Slow & steady, you'll be fine.

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