Many Villagers believe that the most dangerous roundabout is the one on Morse Boulevard near U.S. Hwy. 27/441. Others say it is the one on Buena Vista Boulevard at Rainey Trail. Still others say it is the one where Canal Street crosses Stillwater Trail.
Why is any of this important? Well, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, many snowbirds have returned to The Villages. You can readily see that there is more and more traffic daily. Maybe not quite as much as in previous years however, enough that there should be reminders on the safest way to transverse our roundabouts.
So which is the most dangerous? The next one! That’s right, the next roundabout you approach could be the most dangerous if you and the other drivers approaching, entering, already in the roundabout or leaving it do not adhere to the proper driving rules. When I was teaching my children to drive, I always told them that you know what you are going to do as you drive however, you do not always know what the other drivers on the road are going to do. You should always be aware of all the other vehicles that are near your car as you proceed.
Actually, roundabouts are easy as long as you stay in your lane, keep your speed at 20 miles per hour or less, and never change lanes. You also have to slow down as you approach the roundabout and make sure you are in the proper lane for where you want to exit. The following guidelines should make driving in roundabouts safe.
NEVER stop in a roundabout.
ALWAYS yield to a vehicle already in the roundabout.
ALWAYS use your right hand turn signal every time you exit. When you are going straight through and exiting at the second exit, you must use your right hand turn signal whether you’re in the inside or outside lane.
NEVER change lanes in a roundabout even if this means that you must enter one of the gates on the visitor’s side. Your gate key works for the visitors side just as it does for the residents side.
LWAYS use your left hand turn signal and use the inside lane when going 3/4 around, (making a left hand turn), until you pass the second exit when you must use your right hand turn signal. If the gate or street you are going into has two lanes, you must enter in the left hand lane.
NEVER enter a roundabout right beside a vehicle in the inner lane. When approaching a roundabout and no vehicles are in the outside lane and vehicles are in the inside lane, you should NOT enter the roundabout until you can stagger your position with that other vehicle so you can see the rear turn signals on the vehicle in the inner lane. That vehicle may be making a 3/4 turn in the roundabout and is preparing to make a right hand turn to leave the roundabout.
At some roundabouts, the two lanes will merge at the second exit. The reason for this is that any vehicle going 3/4 around is going into a one lane road or entrance. For instance, on Buena Vista Blvd. at the Arnold Palmer roundabout, the entrance to either Palmer Way or Lake Miona Boulevard are both one lane entrances. The same is true on Buena Vista Boulevard and Evans Prairie Lane. On Morse Boulevard, the roundabout going north to Bonita Boulevard has the merge after the second exit to make the turn onto Bonita.
I’ll admit it took me a little while to get used to entering a gate from the visitors side whenever I make a left hand turn. I also find it easier to drive in the outside lane at all times unless I’m making a left hand turn. Now that many snowbirds have returned, it is wise to give yourself a little extra time to get to your destination.
Hopefully, this will remind Villagers and their guests the proper way to negotiate a roundabout. However, don’t make the assumption that all the drivers on The Villages roads have read or understand how to negotiate a roundabout. Always be on the lookout for drivers who do not follow the proper guidelines. Be safe out there.
Jay Kaplan is a resident of the Village of Sabal Chase.