WV LTAP: Road Rules for Roundabouts

Adapted from information in the Wisconsin Driver’s Handbook and the WVDOH Website

While roundabouts have been a standard traffic engineering tool used in many other states and countries, they are fairly new to West Virginia. In fact, as of today, there are only three roundabouts in the entire state. The most recent West Virginia roundabout opened to traffic on June 26, in Morgantown, which is one of the fastest growing and largest cities in the state. It is expected that this roundabout will carry an average of 30,000 vehicles a day.


Going through any roundabout for the first time, especially during higher traffic time periods, may be a little uncomfortable at first. The following information has been compiled to help motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists become more familiar with roundabouts and know the rules of the road.

What are the basic steps for driving a roundabout?
1. As you approach the roundabout, look for signs and pavement markings showing which lane to be in.
2. Slow down and obey all traffic signs.
3. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk.
4. Yield to traffic on your left already in the roundabout.
5. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in traffic, making a right turn. (In the United
States, you should never make a left-hand turn into the roundabout!)
6. As you approach your exit, turn on your right turn signal.
7. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists as you exit.

Who must yield when driving a roundabout?
Vehicles already in the roundabout have the right-of-way and motorists entering the roundabout must yield to them. Yield means that the approaching motorists must stop if there is traffic in the roundabout and wait for a gap or break to appear in the traffic flow before entering the roundabout.

Can semis, trucks with trailers, and other large trucks use a roundabout?
Yes, they are all able to use a roundabout. Because large vehicles need extra space when driving through a roundabout, a truck apron is built into the design. A truck apron is a paved area on the inside of the roundabout for the rear wheels of large trucks to use when turning.

What are motorists supposed to do when an emergency vehicle is approaching a roundabout?
Motorists who have not yet entered the roundabout should pull over and let the emergency vehicle pass. Motorists who have entered the roundabout, should continue to their exit then pull over and let the emergency vehicle pass after they have exited the roundabout. Motorists should always avoid stopping in the roundabout.

Should drivers change lanes in a roundabout?
Drivers should never change lanes in a roundabout. Before entering the roundabout, motorists should pay close attention to signs and pavement markings to ensure that they get into the correct lane upon entering the roundabout.

What should a motorist do if he/she has an accident in a roundabout?
If a motorist has an accident in a roundabout and the vehicle remains drivable, he/she should move the car out of the roundabout and as far off the road to the right as safely possible.

Who enters first if drivers arrive at the roundabout at the same time from all approaches?
If drivers arrive at a roundabout at the same time from all approaches, they should all be able to enter at the same time because of the staggering of the entrances. However, they all must yield to vehicles already traveling in the roundabout.

How do pedestrians and bicyclists use a roundabout?
Pedestrians cross roundabouts at designated crosswalks. Even though pedestrians have the right-of-way, they must always use caution and make sure that vehicles are stopping before entering the crosswalk. Bicyclists can either ride through the roundabout following the rules of the road like other vehicles or they can walk their bikes across using designated crosswalks with other pedestrians.

Are roundabouts more dangerous than signalized intersections?
Roundabouts are safer and more efficient than standard intersections. The design of the roundabout promotes safety, because all ve hic le s are t rave ling in the sam e counterclockwise direction at low speeds and vehicle paths do not cross at right angles. According to crash statistics, roundabouts reduce fatal crashes by about 90 percent, injury crashes by about 75 percent, and overall crashes by about 35 percent when compared to other types of intersections.

Is a roundabout the same thing as a traffic circle?
No, a roundabout is not the same thing as a traffic circle. In a roundabout, vehicles travel at low speeds and vehicles already in the roundabout have the right-of-way, unlike traffic circles. The design and operation of roundabouts makes them much safer for traffic flow than traffic circles. For more information on the differences between traffic circles and roundabouts and some common misconceptions, please visit: wvltap. wvu.edu/TrafficMythsRoundabouts.pdf.

Article Sources: www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/handbook.htm