A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Roundabout rule: Use your blinker

Written April 14th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Readers have been asking, every few weeks it seems, for a public reminder on how to exit a roundabout, specifically the one on North Albany Road. That’s because as the video shows, most of us are doing it wrong.

The most recent plea came from Pat Schlecht on Friday: “You might refer people to (the Oregon) Driver’s Manual regarding (the) proper way to exit a roundabout. Both the manual and (ODOT’s) brochure about roundabouts state that you should indicate your exit with a right-hand signal.”

That is, indeed, what the manual says: “Indicate your plan to exit using your right turn signal. Watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk and be prepared to stop.”

Several years of casual observation and daily driving confirm Pat’s email: “That signal is rarely, maybe less than 10 percent of the time, used by folks traveling on North Albany Road.”

Part of the trouble at this roundabout, at the intersection of North Albany and Gibson Hill Roads, is that most of the traffic is on two of the rotary’s four connecting roads. Traffic on the other two is much less, so many drivers don’t expect anyone to enter the circle from there.

The other problem is the small size of the roundabout. Even at the recommended slow speed of 15 mph, it’s only a split second from the exit you don’t want to the one you do. By the time you’ve turned on your signal, you’re already exiting. And if you signal too soon, you might be inviting someone to enter the circle in front of you only to get hit.

Pat Schlecht is right, though, and so are the others who have complained about the widespread lack of roundabout signalling. We all should do what the driver’s manual says.

“I was also told,” Pat wrote, “when I moved to North Albany that cars here did not need turn signals as local stores did not sell blinker fluid anyway.”

So maybe that’s the problem. We’re trying to conserve. (hh)

Traffic at the North Albany roundabout was light at mid-day on Saturday.

10 responses to “Roundabout rule: Use your blinker”

  1. Thomas Aaron says:

    Used to be diligent driver and use my signal at the roundabout when I first moved here. Over the years I sadly fell in line with the majority. The visibility is pretty good so you can see where everyone is going and the directional intent of 99% of drivers in the circle is extremely predictable. It’s rare for somebody to go full circle coming off of North Albany or Gibson Hill, but it does happen.

    I’d say at least half of the 10% who use a turn signal use the wrong signal though.

  2. Delfina Herrera Hoxie says:

    I always use mine. Wish everyone did.

  3. Dala Rouse says:

    If you are going to talk about what we drivers do wrong, how about turning off your fog lights when approaching another car. The ticket for that one can be over $200. About 25% of cars I meet going to Corvallis don’t turn off their fog lights when approaching other cars. Sometimes their fog lights are brighter than their headlights.

  4. Susan says:

    Thank you for this information. The roundabout by Whitaker’s is the first I have experienced. It never occurred to me to rush to my Driver’s Manual to see what the rules may be. I will be more diligent. I do worry about pedestrians though. Everyone is looking at all the cars going ’round and ’round, then all of a sudden there is a pedestrian! I have always stopped, then braced myself to be rear-ended. Thankfully that has not yet happened. I think the roundabouts should have the flashing lights that go off when there is someone in the crosswalk and they really should wait to make sure it’s safe to cross.

    Now to get everyone to do what they do know to do all of the time: signal when changing lanes/turning, turning into the inside lane when making a left (not going immediately into the second lane), changing lanes in an intersection and obeying the speed limit (it’s a race track on Pacific during morning commute, especially where the four lanes come together by Walgreens).

  5. tom cordier says:

    Seems like this is a trivial issue. Just pay attention when entering a roundabout. If the other guy does not signal an exit–so what —so you lost two seconds by waiting. I don’t trust any auto signals because they might be in error.

  6. JJ says:

    HH, thank you for your website. Another traffic related question.
    Taking a left from Ellsworth onto 9th, is a red arrow, which I think means no turn (even from the left lane), however the Oregon DMV manual isn’t really clear. I see people who wait, and others who stop & then go.
    Then the next one, taking a right from 9th to go under Pacific is a standard red light (but we all know we shouldn’t turn on that one), seems like it should have the no turn on red signs.
    And lastly, coming back from pacific onto Lyon has round red light but a no turn on red sign.
    It doesn’t seem to be consistent in the use of red circles/arrows and no turn on red signs.

  7. hj.anony1 says:

    Size matters maybe. A more important factor is this particular “roundie” is on a hillside which adds an additional difficulty factor.

    As you travel east on Gibson to travel south on NA road, you grade downhill. Turning and blinking is a challenge while steering. I try.

    As you travel north on NA to circle around west on Gibson, one cannot see the blinker as your eye catching video shows HH. All about angles! Less effort given here.

    Try as I may, I often get distracted by my touchscreen. You know changing the sat radio to a more desirable song or commentary. Often smack in the middle of a “roundie”. Sigh.

    This “smallish roundie” at NA & Gibson probably puts a death knell on an thought of one at Gibson and Crocker. SAD

  8. Lila says:

    I agree that the roundabout in N Albany is too small and too quick to properly signal. Though, most of the time if I do see someone signal it’s their left turn signal. :( Maybe it’s their first time in a roundabout.

    On a side note…
    We’re in Oregon and it rains, a lot. Why don’t people have their headlights on??? It’s so difficult to see others in the rain. If your wipers are on, then turn your headlights on!!!

  9. Doug Klinkebiel says:

    Never trust a turn signal.


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany Carousel Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal Andy Olson Benton County Benton County parks bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA City of Albany climate change coronavirus COVID-19 Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village global warming gun control Highway 20 Interstate 5 Kitzhaber Linn County marijuana medical marijuana Millersburg North Albany Road Obama ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Oregon passenger rail Pacific Power Portland & Western Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Willamette River

Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering