Will Roundabouts save money and time for Canadians?

roundabout sign

Driving Me Around The Bend

 

As I’ve driven around southern Ontario I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of round-a-bouts that are replacing the more traditional light controlled intersections that north Americans so love. There are benefits to having roundabouts mainly, maintenance free and cheap to run due to no potential electrical problems.

Those savings should eventually be passed on to the average Tax payer but I’m not a politician and where that money really ends up is anybody’s guess. Traffic flow is the next advantage, it allows  a constant controlled flow of traffic with zero intervention unless there’s been an accident which leads me on to my next subject.

 

Roundabout rules

 

Coming from a country that has a large amount of roundabouts it’s no big challenge to negotiate the circular obstacle. There is a simple rule in the UK about how to navigate a standard 4 entry/exit roundabouts that seems to have been made very complicated over here in Canada.

In the UK the rule is stay on the right side lane if you’re exiting the first right hand exit or going straight which would be the second exit. Enter the roundabout using the left lane if you are travelling off the third exit or returning in the direction from which you came, essentially making a u-turn.

But here in Canada, there seems to have been a little confusion with roundabout traffic rules. I’ve seen 2 lanes coming in on one entry but only a one lane exit on the opposite side yet the signage at the entry tells a different tale.

There are roundabouts where both left and right lanes exit on the second exit. There is no set standard for your roundabouts and may explain as to why some people just get plain confused when using them.

For your own information please refer to your provincial drivers handbook or through the government website to correctly navigate roundabouts.

 

Driving in Canada

 

When I came to Canada I was lucky enough to just swap my UK driving licence for a full G licence with no testing due to the fact that I’ve already driven for a number of years.

That’s very trusting of the Canadians, but instead of just assuming I knew how the roads worked here I purchased a drivers handbook and proceeded to read.

I have to admit, the information in said book was a little dismal. Instead of telling you right from wrong it’s full of grey areas like the over taking rule of passing on the left, but you can also pass on the right although they don’t recommend it.

The UK highway code is much more informative and tells you what you can (legally correct) and what you cannot do (illegal) in plain english.

I can see why the car insurance rates in Canada are higher, I’m sorry to say but the standard of driving in Ontario is poor.

This is not an opinion that I hold alone, work colleges that have been born and raised here feel the same way. Learning to drive a car with a standard gearbox (stick shift) rather than an automatic does help you become a better driver in my opinion because you have to concentrate more when learning.

Not only that, but when you’re out on the highways a standard transmission gives you better control over the vehicle by being more in tune with what the vehicle is doing.

 

Signals what signals

 

Where are you going?

There are amber or red coloured lights on all four corners of a standard car but most people seem to think their use is optional.

I’ve never known a place where so many people don’t bother indicating their intentional direction and just pull out, pull in, over take or under take with no prior warning.

The summer months are the worst and strangely enough when the snow storms hit indicators suddenly become everyone’s best friend.

How many people remember to get their vehicle winter ready?  Keep yourselves safe out there especially now that winter is just around the corner.

It makes me wonder though if 4-6 months of winter driving takes all the concentration out of people so by the time the weather gets better everybody lets loose and just forgets how to drive.

I’m no professional driver but I do pride myself on never having an accident since the day I obtained my licence at the age of 17, nor any parking or traffic tickets.

 

Drive safe and save money

 

Sure, it all sounds a little boring and a little safe but good driving can save you a lot of money.

There’s cheap or cheaper insurance for starters, no tickets to pay for, no damage that I have to fork out money for and no deductible to pay for because I’ve never claimed, never lost any time from work due to an accident. Being safe out on the road is as much about your own protection as it is about the safety of other road users.

Most of this post is about driving and a little about what annoys me but I’m sure most of you have experienced at least one or more irritating habits that manifest themselves in other people’s driving techniques.

The center lane hogger is a personal source of irritation for me although I’m not sure why so many people choose to do this. There’s a slow lane on the 400 series of highways and the lane is there for Mr. C. L. Hogger, so why doesn’t he like using it?

The last-minute decision has caused a couple of close calls for me when people decide to come across 2 lanes of traffic to exit a 400 series highway because they either forgot where they were going or they’ve got something far more interesting going on than concentrating on the job in hand, driving.

Speeding up to over take and then proceed to sit at the lights for even longer is just plain confusing, maybe Canadians like sitting in cars looking at red lights? You know if you watch the light changes you can actually adjust your speed to avoid coming to full stop or even avoid most of the red lights altogether.

The more time you spend pulling off from a dead stop the more gas you are using. So Mr. Speedy actually wasted even more gas by speeding up then sitting at the lights and having to set-off from a dead stop.

Think about your actions when driving, would you be just as forgiving if someone caused you to have an accident because of their terrible driving?

It might only be something as small as not indicating but causing an accident could get you in a lot of bother because you would be breaking the law. I think the technical term is failure to indicate intended direction or maybe you can correct me.

 

After the drivers test

 

It just seems that the basic driving 3 step premise of Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre is quickly forgotten once the license has been obtained.

I once witnessed a rear end collision at a car park exit, the best of it was both vehicles were stationary until the car in front decided reverse gear would be far more entertaining and proceeded to front end collision the car behind.

I’d like to see the explanation on that insurance claim.

Quite possibly the worst decision anyone makes is the rash left hand turn. Mrs CBB gets in a bit of a fluff every time she can’t see traffic coming from the passenger seat. I could say she’s a bit of a back seat driver, but she’s not, she just has concern for our safety at heart. I don’t blame her as this seems to be the most common accident I’ve seen on Ontario roads.

So, if you think roundabouts are the wave of the future in Canada I hope you are right. The roundabout is much easier to use and can get us from point A to point B much faster than having to wait at a light controlled intersection. Plus, no more man hours spent fixing broken lights or having police out to direct traffic.

A roundabout is similar to having landscaping that requires little to no maintenance in my opinion and is well worth the money spent to implement if a city can afford to get the job done right.

 

What are your thoughts about roundabouts in Canada?

 

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Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. I’m glad they are finally being installed. It’s much more efficient as well for the drivers because they do not have to come to a complete stop nor do they have to sit and idle for 15 seconds up to 2 minutes. Or sit there forever because the induction coil under the pavement is broken and the light never changes. Then after 5 minutes of waiting they cautiously drive through the red because the light will never change for them.
    hungry hungry artist (@blerghhh) recently posted…The freelance lifeMy Profile

    • Hello, I’m glad you agree. The other light controlled intersection problem I found was unnecessary light changes. The lights would change to red for me even when there was no traffic waiting to go across.

  2. Mary F. Campbell says:

    I really dislike roundabouts Mr CBB! No one seems to know how they work and I have seen so many accidents and near accidents because folks just don’t understand who actually has the right of way. Now to be honest, it’s not much better when the power is off and the 4-way stop procedure needs to be employed. No one seems to know the riles of the road there either. Either they sit endlessly trying to be polite or they aggressively charge into the intersection before their turn.

    I also REALLY dislike roundabouts because many emergency vehicles are too long to navigate the roundabout. In North Vancouver, my SIL has watched fire trucks take an extra 15-20 minutes to arrive at a fire scene because they have go so far in the wrong direction to avoid all the roundabouts and come back on a roundabout free street. What yahoo thought this was a good idea in a residential area?

    The other pet peeve I have with them is places like the Coast Meridian Highway in WA state where the speed limit is 50 mph on the highway leading into and out of the roundabout. How many folks actually are able to control their cars at that speed hitting a tight roundabout…let me tell you – not many.

    They may be great over time but not until we have all the older drivers that have not grown up with them, off the roads. So, look forward to about 75 years of smash and crash until today’s “N” drivers become the elderly drivers.

    I had them in Montreal when I learned to drive and those folks that cut across 2 lanes types on the 400 are just as likely to sit in the left lane of a roundabout until they nearly miss their roundabout exit and have to cut you off to make their way across. Assume everyone on all sides of you are completely clueless and then drive as if your life depends on it…it does!

    • Thanks Mary, all emergency vehicles in the UK use roundabouts with no issues. I can see Canada is going to have to take a little time to get used to the new traffic device. I would hope that using roundabouts are part of the learner driver program, but I cannot confirm that.

  3. Great post! I’ve driven in the UK and I noticed that our roundabouts here are not always the same. They’re a bit random. The biggest problem with the roundabouts here are the transport truck drivers. The big trucks use up both lanes and therefore render this fancy roundabout completely useless. Does no one pay attention to what traffic is in the area before one of these is designed and installed? Sheesh.
    I agree with you completely about the signalling. They seem to be a figment of everyone’s imagination in the GTA. Makes me crazy! Then you get the ones that signal and attempt to change lanes into the side of your car anyways. Love it! I could rant for hours about this and somedays wish I had a dashboard cam. After spending 3-4 hours each day for a year driving into downtown Toronto on the 400 series highways, I’ve seen it all. LOL!
    Michelle recently posted…Would You Talk Finances on a First Date?My Profile

    • Hi Michelle, the roundabout is a great traffic control device, but if It’s poorly implemented It can be a disaster.

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    Today’s article is my chuckle for the day!!! A few years ago they put a roundabout in London at a problem intersection(Hale and Trafalger) that really raised quite the fuss there. People was complaining about it before it was even built! It will cause more accidents!!!! Not so said the local police force, you just need to learn how to drive it….. But a lot of folks still thought the world was coming to an end…. Just plain stupid. I grew up in Stratford as you know by now and we have a small one over by the old fairgrounds and we all learned how to deal with it so the fuss in London caused much chuckling in Stratford.
    They are just finishing up putting two of them by here. One on either side of the Wildwood dam. Hear-tell we will be getting two more on the road to Stratford, likely next year. The main complaint here about the has more to do with the fact that road has been under construction now for 3 summers as they upgrade the entire road between Stratford and Elginfield. The new roundabouts will make it 4 years of construction….. I have other routes to get to London and Stratford so I’m not that fussed.
    I do agree with your opinion of drivers around here. London drivers are really bad. I drive a big old pick up truck so I’m kind of hard to miss, not impossible mind you. People in London have a habit of trying to beat the yellow light. I have developed the habit of taking my time moving off a light when I get the green. I’ve seen way too many vehicles blow through on a red. I’m with you at watching the speed coming up to a light, if you look over at the walk/don’t walk sign you can get an idea if you will be stopping or slowing down or if you can go right through. I do flash the brake light as I go to slow down if I know I can coast up to the light. Saves the twit riding my tailgate from rear ending me, hopefully. That’s a pet peeve here, tail gaters…. Buddy, I’m Ina truck, high back end and all…. I also have a trailer hitch so if you rear end me I’m getting a new hitch cover…your car. It won’t hurt me much but it’s a given you will need a new rad so Back Off Stupid!!!!
    I try to avoid driving the 400 series roads but it can’t be helped sometimes. I will study the maps and google the directions before I go some place new . I try very hard to be in the right lane especially if I know my exit is coming up. I want to be over where I need to be in good time. Drives me nuts when some one nips over a couple of lanes to get tot he exit, were they not paying attention?????? Don’t bother answering that one, we both know the answer. Our insurance is on the low side because hubby and I are both careful drivers. Now he’s not driving so I’m principal for the insurance but we still have low rates. Pays to be careful.
    Oh and yes I can drive a stick shift…. I agree you pay more attention to things while driving a stick, always nice to know in time if you have to down-shift because of something coming up the road but I still flash the brakes……

    • Good morning Christine, I can see we have quite a few similar views. The secret with tailgaters is not to be controlled by them and be pushed to speed up.

  5. Two years ago my small city added an intersection that had 2 left hand turn lanes. These lanes were side by side and heading in the same direction so that more cars could turn left at a busy intersection. It was chaos. No one used the outside lane and when I did old men in the inside turn lane would shake their fists at me.

    I will avoid any intersections with round-a-bouts for a year or two until people have time to adjust.
    Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle recently posted…Motivation To Keep Me Hacking Away At DebtMy Profile

    • Hi Jane, I see you have come across anomalies in roundabout design too. A lot of confusion seems to stem from the fact that not all roundabouts here follow the standard structure.

  6. I don’t know much about roundabouts in Canada, but I hate the ones in the US. Not that they are necessarily bad, but no one understands them. Usually they are in more touristy areas who are trying to look like Europe, and those are especially bad because you get people from all over the place who have often never even seen one. I much prefer stop lights.
    KIm@Eyesonthedollar recently posted…The First Year of Owning a Rental PropertyMy Profile

    • Hello Kim, I haven’t had the opportunity to encounter a roundabout in the US yet. As for the Canadian roundabouts, don’t give up, once you’ve mastered it you’ll wonder why we didn’t have them before.

  7. I’m glad they are finally being installed as well. I think the confusion comes in because some roundabouts are really traffic circles.

    Traffic circles are just that. Single lane, designed to slow down traffic and re-route it one yield at a time.

    A two lane roundabout is more complicated but folks need to be mindful of the rules. If you wish to make a U-turn, you must enter the roundabout in the left lane. If you are making what would have been a right turn at a “normal” intersection or wish to travel straight through, you need to enter in the right lane.

    There are more and more in Ottawa coming, and thank goodness!!!

    Mark

  8. I should add, older traffic circles were much larger than modern roundabouts.
    http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/engineering/roundabout/faq.shtml
    My Own Advisor recently posted…The constant barrage of financial product promotionMy Profile

    • Hi Mark, some of the light controlled intersections are being replaced with roundabouts which is more difficult due to available land restrictions. I haven’t seen a mini-roundabout here in Canada yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see those creeping in.

  9. We have a few “traffic circles” around here. The issue is, nobody seems to quite know how to use them. I think it’s very efficient and also better for vehicles and air quality (less idling) but there would have to be some sort of education out there and it would also have to be closely monitored to ensure proper usage.
    Tushar @ Everything Finance recently posted…5 Secrets of Successful SaversMy Profile

  10. To get to one of my stores from home for work I drive through 5 roundabouts in a row…they are great if used properly. Most people.do not signal which they should and the people who use them to pass people drive me nuts! They always ending up cutting somebody off. The ones we have here they focused too much on making them looking nice and all the landscaping they have in the middle makes it hard to see traffic that is coming around. More education needs to be provided on how to use them properly and I hope they are included in driver training and road tests because they are popping up everywhere in our area!

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