Indicating and Roundabouts

Turn signals are advanced warning indicators. A method of communicating intent so that other road users can be aware of what’s about to occur.  The point is to give those other cars, cyclists, pedestrians, or whatever, plenty of opportunity to react.  Apparently though maybe 90% or so of drivers in New Zealand these days use their indicators a split second before making a manoeuvre, after they’ve started their manoeuvre, or not at all.  The point being … ?

Perhaps some new road rule that encourages adding a little flashing light flourish to turns, perhaps to give them a bit more zest or zing?  Though I suspect those drivers are sloppily executing a kind of thoughtless mantra (like everybody else), aren’t paying attention to their driving, or maybe even take the view that it’s nobody else’s business where they’re going!

Ironically perhaps in situations where signalling isn’t really needed, such as at right turn only lights, everybody’s sitting in the queue flashing.  No sheep jokes I hear you say!

Then there’s roundabouts. Oh my god!  Which of course are supposed to enable traffic to keep flowing whilst interchanging.

With 4 exits you signal right if you’re taking the 3rd, then signal left before turning off at any exit. Simple … it seems not!  So many vehicles going straight over signal right (a rule that was changed years ago). Most dangerous is when traffic taking the 3rd exit doesn’t signal right. Then traffic merging from the 2nd exit (straight over) can assume those not signalling are going straight over and … bang!!

Bad or no signalling is so prevalent that most drivers will wait until a roundabout is clear before venturing forth, which of course defeats the point, shuts down the flow, causing congestion, creating impatience … bang!!

On 3 exit roundabouts as there is no 4th exit there’s no reason to signal right unless a vehicle is continuing all the way around back to the 3rd exit.  Probably 90% of drivers signal right when they are taking the 2nd exit (effectively straight on).  That behaviour is annoying and can disrupt the flow if the right indicator isn’t cancelled quickly enough so that drivers waiting to merge from the 2nd exit have to stop, assuming the vehicle is continuing around.

So roundabouts don’t work very well in New Zealand, being too complicated for the average driver who is unable to cope with even simple turn signalling.  It would be interesting to know whether actual vs theoretical roundabout behaviour is factored into flow models when road layouts are being designed. 

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