The Washington County roundabouts; it’s a war out there

Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. The opinions stated in this article are solely her own and not those of St. George News.

HUMOR – There is a war raging in Southern Utah. It isn’t a religious war or a political war. Whether we are aware or not, we are all enlisted in this war and it rages every day. The battlefront? Every roundabout in Washington County.

There are two sides to this war. One is composed of people who have contempt for roundabouts; contempt of a kind that is usually reserved for presidential candidates and serial rapists. The other group is composed of people who don’t know how to drive.

The roundabout is the most underappreciated and misunderstood of all traffic control devices. Roundabouts are pretty handy and tons of fun to drive around.

According to Ivins City, aside from having a significantly lower long-term cost, “(a)dvantages of roundabouts include reduced traffic delays, increased safety and reduced right of way requirements.”

I used to think that roundabouts were pretty straightforward. Like St. George Police Department’s Sgt. Craig Harding said, “When you get to the roundabout, you look to the left, if there’s no one coming, you go. That’s it. It’s that simple.”

While I’d say that waiting to proceed until no one is coming is a good general rule, something about a roundabout turns drivers into Dale Earnhardt vigilantes.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, I know! Everyone is a terrible driver but me!

But what you have is a classic case of bad-driver denial. I’ve seen it a thousand times, particularly in roundabouts.

I gleaned some of my wisdom from the unofficial DMV website, which boasts a shocking 118,770 likes on Facebook. You know who these 118,770 people are, they actually know how to handle a roundabout – they are the ones who memorize their driver handbooks.

The unofficial DMV website turned out to be similar to the real-life DMV in that I ended up being redirected to a different website after waiting in the wrong line for an hour.

When I eventually found the real Department of Public Safety website I knew I was in the right place because the website was incredibly boring and as nearly as I can tell no one likes it, either on Facebook or in real life.

From here I downloaded the Utah Driver Handbook, where on page 12 I located a long coma-inducing paragraph.

It said:

“Roundabouts were created in an effort to reduce the number of points where conflict can occur between vehicles and other vehicles or pedestrians … (blah, blah, blah) … A typical roundabout has a mountable curb around the outside of the center island to accommodate big trucks and semis as necessary.”

I read:

“It is permissible to drive on the sidewalk in a roundabout, provided that you are operating a large vehicle and are hauling stuff.”

This is going to revolutionize my trips to the Bloomington Wal-mart.

The driver handbook also lists four handy points to remember when approaching a roundabout:

1.    Yield to whatever traffic is in the roundabout.

(This includes people with Idaho plates who barge into the roundabout going the wrong direction and people who don’t know what lane they are supposed to be in so they slow down to five mph while they consult advice from Facebook.)

2.   Always enter the roundabout to your right.

(If you enter the roundabout to your right and find that everyone is driving directly toward you while glaring and yelling obscenities, it is probably because they hate roundabouts as much as you do.)

3.   Yield to pedestrians.

(Can we make this a blanket rule, Utah? Let’s stop hitting pedestrians with our cars. Even if they don’t have the right-of-way, it just seems like the courteous thing to do.)

4.   Use your turn signal.

(This doesn’t mean use your turn signal to hang up your vanillaroma pine tree air freshener. This doesn’t mean turn your turn signal on and then forget to turn it off. It means that if you plan to turn left, signal left. If you plan to turn right, signal right.)

I will leave you with the following pearl of Department of Public Safety wisdom: Courtesy is the key to safety. And, if I might apply some circular reasoning in a roundabout way: Safety is the key to courtesy.

We’re all running in circles – let’s be courteous out there!

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Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • jade brooklyn April 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I’m so sick of this beng an issue here. It hardly requires a brain to know how to use a roundabout, we just have the world’s dumbest drivers here, that’s all!! I mean seriously, if you know yield means to only stop if a car’s coming and can read a one-way sign, you’re good to go.

  • @JordanCarlHunt April 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Roundabouts are safer, faster, and cheaper. I’m confused as to why the conservative families of Southern Utah are against them. They’re much better to look at than a lighted intersection (you can put art in the middle, which is cool. Not to mention they are just plain fun.

  • ScottRAB April 13, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search for FAQs and safety facts.
    If you want to see the difference between a traffic circle, a rotary (UK roundabout) and a modern roundabout, search to see pictures. has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate ( ).

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