Lots of learner drivers are daunted by the prospect of roundabouts – especially as there’s a good chance your driving test will take on a decent sized roundabout at some point.

With experience and the best knowledge, using the circular junctions quickly ends up being second nature.

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know to become a roundabout-pro.

Why do we have roundabouts?

When two, or more, hectic roads converge – something has to give. Roundabouts are developed to keep traffic moving, ease blockage and accelerate journey times.

They’re also much safer than traditional junctions and crossroads – where drivers can be lured to run red light signals. On roundabouts traffic always moves in the same direction, making manoeuvres like right turns far much easier.

PLEASE NOTE: The changes to the highway code in 2022.

How Do Roundabouts Work?

The approaching traffic typically paves the way to traffic currently on the roundabout, which always originates from the right.

By leaving a safe gap – you can join with the circulation of traffic and continue in the right lane up until reaching your exit.

Ensure that you signal prior to you leaving the roundabout. You would generally signal as you pass the exit just before the one you require.

It’s also possible and recommended to use a roundabout to carry out a U-turn. This is the most safe alternative.

Like normal roads, larger roundabouts consist of different lanes. Only by joining a roundabout in the right lane will you have the ability to access your chosen exit.

A typical roundabout has three or 4 exits, although in some cases there can be as many as 7, or in some case as little as two.

How to apply for a provisional driving licence

Approaching a roundabout and selecting the right lane

You’ll understand you’re approaching a roundabout when you see a red triangle cautioning indication with a black circular emblem inside. Nevertheless not all roundabouts are signposted.

Mini-roundabouts, will normally be flanked with a blue circle indication with 3 white circular arrows inside.

Mini roundabouts operate in the same way as larger ones, however frequently appear in narrower residential areas.

When you’ve identified a roundabout ahead, it’s time to start making your preparations and most importantly choose the proper lane.

Road markings in the form of arrows (and sometimes text), interact with road signs on the roundabout approach to show which lanes go where on each particular roundabout.

You’ll quickly get into the habit of choosing the lane you’ll need, and in some cases you’ll even have an option.

When you have actually reached the roundabout and chose whether you need to stop or whether you can continue if the road is clear then choose the proper gear.

Now it’s time to acknowledge the golden rule of roundabouts:

Give way to traffic originating from the right.

Ensure you’re signalling in the direction you wish to take before joining in the roundabout, unless you’re travelling straight on, in which case you do not need to signal up until you pass the exit before the one you are going to use.

If the roundabout has standing traffic, you can only join it if you will not obstruct any entrances or exits.

Turning left.

If you’re taking a left turn at a roundabout (normally the 1st exit), you’ll constantly need to approach it in the left lane.

Ensure you stay in the left-hand lane for the entire time you’re on the roundabout. Keep your left indicator on and leave by means of the very first exit.

Continuing straight ahead.

Frequently, you just want to take a trip straight through the roundabout, often people will state: ‘head straight over the roundabout’.

Depending on the size of the roundabout, you’ll typically have the ability to use the left-hand lane for this, however in some cases the left-hand lane will be for left turns only (road signs will assist you on this).

There are also circumstances where larger roundabouts, have a designated lane for driving straight over. Examine the road markings on approaching the roundabout.

Just after the very first exit, inspect your main mirror, then your left door mirror. Signal left and if all is clear, take your exit.

Turning right.

If you’re taking a right turn at a roundabout, (typically the 3rd exit), you’ll need to travel around it from the right-hand lane.

Continue in the right-hand lane up until you pass the second exit. Examine your main mirror, then your left door mirror and signal left.

You’ll need to move into the left lane prior to exiting- so check your blind spot while doing this with a fast glance over your left shoulder. Once in the left lane you’re ready to exit.


Use the MSPSL method below.

– Mirror.
– Signal.
– Position.
– Speed.
– Look.

How could I fail my test at a roundabout?

Here we take a look at prospective mistakes you could make on your driving test and whether they will incur a failed driving test or not.

You can have up to 15 driver faults but just one major fault indicates a fail.

Hesitating at a roundabout.

Of course you will not be penalised for ‘not taking a chance’, and no one wants you to take risks, but if you miss a specific, safe chance to join a roundabout, you’ll be holding up traffic for no good reason.

A brief hold-up might be marked as a driver fault. If you miss a clear opportunity where there was plenty of time to proceed you may fail the practical driving test as a major fault could be marked.

If it’s clear early on then you’re fine to continue, do so without stopping fully – which might trigger a rear-end crash.

Failure to safely address a wrong lane choice.

You will not fail your test for choosing the wrong lane – it’s all about how you react. Use your mirrors, checks, speed and signals to get back on track and you’ll be fine.

Forgetting to cancel the indictor after exiting.

If you leave your signal on for too long it will confuse other road users. Whether this is classed a driver fault or a major fault will depend on for how long it is prior to you noticing!


We hope this has cleared up any questions you may have on approaching and tackling roundabouts on your driving test and in daily life.