CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The NBC Charlotte Defenders team is looking into the rapid rise in roundabouts.
You’ve seen them popping up everywhere. Experts say they are generally considered safer than normal intersections with fewer traffic crashes, particularly serious accidents.
However, there’s a lot of confusion about how they work. Our team found possible gaps in North Carolina’s newly published driver’s manual.
NBC Charlotte went through the 100 page handbook and only found part of one page dealing with roundabouts.
NBC Charlotte asked drivers if they think roundabouts can be confusing.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” said Mario Greene, a local business owner in Lincolnton.
Greene shared photos with NBC Charlotte, which he says showed a traffic crash at the roundabout in downtown Lincolnton earlier this year.
“These cars come flying around,” said Greene. “Someone is bound to get hit eventually.”
As more roundabouts are popping up on the road, NBC Charlotte found less information about them than you might expect in the state’s driving manual.
“You giving more exposure and letting the state know about the problem would help,” said Fentress Chestnut, a driving instructor with the North Carolina Driving School.
Out of 98 pages in the North Carolina driver handbook, there was not even a full page devoted to roundabouts, only a tip on the side of page 56.
“If you could place a diagram in there with that, and a better explanation of how to negotiate roundabouts would help greatly,” said Chestnut.
NBC Charlotte also learned there is only one potential question dealing with roundabouts on the state’s driving test.
It simply asks who has the right of way the drivers in the circle or out of the circle, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
“It should be a pool of questions,” Chestnut said.
NBC Charlotte did our own test with Chestnut at a single lane roundabout, where the driver in the circle always has the right of way.
“Once we enter the roundabout we have the right of way,” said Chestnut.
In a multilane roundabout, Chestnut said the inside lane is for drivers going around and the outside lane is for cars exiting immediately.
“Always prepare what your next move is going to be,” Chestnut said.
In response to our investigation, the NCDOT said they will consider adding information about roundabouts before the next driver’s manual is published.
However, the state’s next handbook won’t be published for another three to five years, so NBC Charlotte will stay on top of any other developments.