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One-quarter of UK drivers don’t know how to properly signal at roundabouts

Updated: Oct 17, 2023



Roundabouts are a stressful manoeuvre for many, with almost one in six (14%) UK drivers saying they make city driving stressful. But how many drivers don’t know - or don’t follow - roundabout rules, putting themselves at risk of fines and jeopardising the safety of themselves and others?


The car insurance team at Compare the Market has surveyed UK drivers to determine how many know the correct Highway Code rules relating to roundabouts, from signalling to giving way. The results revealed that many drivers seemingly need a roundabout refresh to help keep UK roads safe.

Almost 6 million drivers are at risk of £50 fines for not properly giving way on roundabouts


According to the study, almost six million drivers could be at risk of landing a £50 non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice, for failing to give way to the right at roundabout junctions. The Highway Code rule 185 states: “Always give priority to the traffic coming from the right, unless you have been directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights.”


Furthermore, over half of UK licence holders (55%) are at risk of the same fine due to driving over mini-roundabouts. Nearly half (48%) admit to driving over a raised roundabout and almost two-thirds (62%) to driving over a flat one. Sections 188 to 190 of the Highway Code state: “It is important to remember that all vehicles must pass round the central markings, unless they are too large to do so. You will find that when driving around mini-roundabouts there is less room to manoeuvre and less time to signal, so take extra care.”


A quarter of UK drivers don’t know how to signal correctly on a roundabout


The study also reveals that on average, a quarter (25%) of UK drivers don’t know how to signal correctly when using a roundabout - and some just don’t signal at all. In fact, over 1.2 million drivers say they don’t signal before they exit a roundabout, which could be considered careless and inconsiderate driving, risking three to nine penalty points. What’s more, 3.75 million drivers only ‘occasionally' use their signals before they exit.

Taking the first exit: One in seven (13%) drivers don’t know the correct way to signal when taking the first exit, with nearly one in ten (9%) believing they should indicate to the right.


According to rule 186 of the Highway Code (unless signs and markings indicate otherwise):

  • Signal left and approach the exit in the left hand lane

  • Keep to the left on the roundabout and signal left to leave.

Exiting to the right or going full circle: A large number of drivers don’t know how to indicate correctly when taking an exit to the right or going full circle. One in nine (11%) think they should indicate left when approaching the roundabout with a plan of taking the right exit, and a quarter (25%) think they should indicate right before taking their exit.


However, according to rule 186 of the Highway Code (unless signs or markings indicate otherwise):

  • Signal right and approach the exit in the right hand lane

  • Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to reach your exit

  • Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take.

Taking an intermediate exit / driving straight through: When approaching a roundabout with the plan of driving straight through or taking an intermediate exit, one in five (20%) incorrectly believe they should indicate left when approaching the roundabout and a quarter (25%) believe they do not need to indicate at all when approaching the exit.


Yet, according to rule 186 of the Highway Code (unless signs or markings indicate otherwise):

  • Select the appropriate lane on approach to the roundabout

  • Stay in the lane until you need to alter your lane to exit

  • Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want to take.

Julie Daniels from the car insurance team at Compare the Market said: “Although you can take the same precautions at a roundabout as you would at any other junction, using a roundabout is considered a complex manoeuvre - it’s eye opening to find out how many drivers are unaware of the correct signals and manoeuvres, or simply ignore the rules put in place to keep themselves and other road users safe.


“We encourage drivers to refresh their knowledge of proper procedures when using a roundabout junction to prevent fines and avoid any potential accidents.


“In addition to learning - and doing - the correct manoeuvres, make sure you always slow your speed and give yourself enough time to react, watch out for pedestrian crossings, cyclists and drivers crossing the roundabout in the wrong lane and remember to use the mirror-signal-manoeuvre process, which involves checking your mirrors and signalling, before making your move.”

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