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The Highway Code & Roundabouts – What are the rules?

Roundabouts are often the most daunting and stressful aspect of driving for learner drivers, the speed and quick-decision making can make them seem a lot worse than they are. They are designed to keep the flow of traffic moving and when used correctly are an efficient way of preventing traffic jams, something all road users will appreciate. The Highway Code rules 184-190 detail everything you need to know about roundabouts from approach to exit, we’re going to condense this information into a manageable and easy-to-read guide that hopes to leave you feeling confident in your ability to perform well at roundabouts.

Approaching the roundabout


Rule 184

Ensure that you are vigilant as you approach a roundabout, paying attention to and utilising driving aids such as traffic signs, traffic lights and lane markings in order to position yourself in the correct lane.

Remember Mirrors- Signal- Manoeuvre

  • Decide on your exit and locate this on road signage, ensuring you know which exit to take
  • Signal as you approach the roundabout to indicate your line of direction to other road users (left for left, often no signal for straight ahead and right for right)
  • Maintain correct lane positioning
  • Adjust your speed depending on the traffic conditions (i.e., slowing down well in advance if there is a lot of traffic)
Day view of busy traffic on UK Motorway roundabout

When you reach the roundabout


Rule 185

  • Look right well in advance and give priority to traffic approaching from the right
  • Check whether road markings allow you to enter the roundabout without giving way, or if there are traffic lights on the roundabout. If this is the case, proceed with caution ensuring that you still look to the right.
  • Be vigilant of other road users already on the roundabout
  • Check in front of you before moving off to ensure traffic ahead has moved.

Lane discipline


Rule 186

Lane discipline has been an increasingly important factor in the development of roundabouts, especially at larger and busier multilane roundabouts. Your position at a roundabout is determined solely by the exit you’re planning to take, rule 186 states that:

When taking the first exit, unless signs and markings indicate otherwise

  • Signal left and approach in the left-hand lane
  • Keep to the left on the roundabout and continue signalling left to leave


When taking an exit on the right or going full circle, unless signs and markings indicate

  • Signal right and approach in the right-hand lane
  • Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit the roundabout
  • Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want


When taking any intermediate exit, unless signs and markings indicate otherwise

  • Approach the roundabout in the appropriate lane (as determined by the road signs and road markings)
  • Signalling is not usually required upon approach
  • Maintain the lane you have chosen until you need to exit the roundabout
  • Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want, ensuring to move across safely


Though intended as a guide, it is important that you ensure to check road signage for each roundabout as they may differ from the guidance given by The Highway Code.

Mini roundabouts


Rule 188

It is important that mini roundabouts are treat in the exact same way as normal roundabouts. However, you may see other road users making mistakes such as crossing directly through the middle, this is wrong and is discouraged. All vehicles must pass around the central markings.

Remember there is less space and less time to manoeuvre at mini roundabouts.

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