Lane markings at roundabouts can often cause confusion rather than helping drivers. Much of the problem stems from an entry in an older edition of the Department for Transport’s ‘Traffic Signs Manual;’ this stated
‘Right turn arrows are best avoided on the approach lanes to a roundabout, other than a mini-roundabout, particularly as they can mislead overseas drivers used to driving on the right. Where a right hand lane is dedicated to a specific destination, this should be associated with an ahead arrow until the vehicle is in the circulatory carriageway.’
Because of this, many councils put ‘ahead’ arrows on lanes from which drivers could only turn right. This becomes a problem when there are two lanes on the approach, both with ahead arrows painted within them. The left-most of those may be for the road straight ahead only. Or perhaps you can also turn right from there; but how are drivers supposed to know the difference?
I once contacted my local council pointing out that there were lots of ‘near misses’ on roundabouts in my area. This was due to some drivers incorrectly using the left hand lane to make a right turn; they were coming into conflict with correctly positioned drivers at the exit. The councils flippant reply was the people using this road should have ‘local knowledge’ and would know which lane to use. But what about all the visitors who didn’t share that local knowledge – how on earth where they supposed to know?
In the 2018 version of the Traffic Signs Manual, the DfT changed the advice for lane markings at roundabouts to:
‘It is possible that the use of a right-turn arrow on the approach to a roundabout might encourage some drivers, particularly those from overseas, to turn the wrong way into the circulatory carriageway. However, in most situations the clockwise direction of circulation should be apparent. Where the right-hand lane is dedicated to right-turning traffic, a right-turn arrow should not present any difficulties and will ensure appropriate use of the lane.‘
You will note the part that I have highlighted on bold. So why is it that many councils still insist in confusing drivers by putting ‘ahead only’ arrows when a right turn arrow is far more appropriate? Particularly when faced with a multi-lane approach to the junction. Perhaps they haven’t received an up to date copy of the DfT manual?
If you have problems with confusing road markings in your area, I would urge you to contact your local council highways department. Get them to read the latest edition which you can download from this link. I’m pretty sure that a few other aspects or road marking and signage might also improve with some up to date knowledge.
Turning Right at a Roundabout (In Learning to Drive) >>>