Tis the season to be Jolly, but keep your brain on, eh?
It would appear that the population-at-large has jumped on board with my intolerance for behind the wheel mobile phone users, acceptance of this illegal activity nowadays is very low. Every Thursday as I open this fine magazine, one of my first missions is to go to the back and read the Thumbs section. More often than not, there are at least two thumbs down entries where people are highlighting dangerous, careless or reckless driving behaviour around the region. The offences mentioned range from speeding, rolling through pedestrian crossings, crazy stunts and impatience. The difference between a near miss and something very serious is the tiniest of margins, and in the main we can thank our lucky stars that the most of the issues highlighted are just near misses. Touch wood, touch wood.
Theres a lot of roundabouts in the Orange district. A lot. I like to lean on stats when making statements, and I dont have any as I type, but my travel experience tells me that our fabulous town has an amount of roundabout that would be above the average number. Maybe even a standard deviation or two above the mean, if you love your maths. Roundabouts keep the traffic flowing, allow a more fair and even flow of vehicular activity from all entries and exits, and are less obtrusive or conspicuous in my opinion that a set of traffic lights. So, youd think that with all those roundabouts at our disposal, wed be super proficient and skilful at using them, wouldnt you?
The NRMA website has roundabout etiquette at #1 on their list of the top ten most misunderstood road rules. Go figure. Maybe we need some signs and education about the use of these fabulous traffic assisters. Theres a town out here a little further west that actually has signs on some of its roundabouts that say something like signal off the roundabout, which means use your blinker when you are leaving the thing. You dont have to signal when coming on to the roundabout, just signal off. Theres a little exception that says when its impractical to do so, but that wouldnt really count on the large roundabouts we have in our Colour City.
Our biggest prob is that many/most of the roundabouts are dual-laned, and plenty a motorist is very liberal about the way they enter from one lane, travel through and then exit from a random lane. Its not even a long story you CANNOT change lanes in a roundabout. Turning left? Then be in the left lane. Going straight? Either lane is OK, and other traffic needs to be aware of this key rule. Going right? Then you MUST do that from the inside lane. Easy. Now, the biggie. If you start from the inside lane (closest to the middle of the road, then you have to stay there, you cant just weave across the roundabout mid-journey because thats where the supermarket entrance, the car wash or the petrol station is. Suggestion: make a plan about 5 seconds before you get to the actual roundabout then, commit to the plan, no changing your mind halfway through. Im just speculating here, but I reckon much of the problem on the 2-lane roundabouts comes from lazy or casual one-hand-on-the-wheel drivers, who turn it into a straightabout by starting on the inside lane, then weaving across to the outside lane as they exit so as not to have to turn at all. Sorry, I turned this weekly entry into a 600 word thumbs down for roundabout use. I promise to be jolly next week and tell you how much I love the Christmas season.