Saturday, April 23, 2016

Road Rage and roundabout safety.

Road range is never something wise people succumb to even when they're in the right. (And no mortal human being, no matter how good a driver, is right every time.)

I dare say it is pretty unlikely that the driver who appeared to make a serious attempt to run me off the road at the Howgate Roandabout a few minutes before 1pm today will read this, but if he does, and if he owns a copy of the Highway code he would be well advised to read the section on roundabouts - rules 184 to 190 - and look at the illustrations on routes through a roundabout.

If he does not have a hard copy to hand he could read the Highway Code online here.

Both hard copy and online versions of the Highway Code show an illustration for a roundabout with four exits, like the Howgate roundabout just North of Whitehaven, with two lanes going into it, which applies to that roundabout if you are heading South along the A595 Distington by-pass as both I and the driver who apparently attempted to run me off the road were.

Both illustrations suggest that if taking the first exit from such a roundabout you should approach in the left hand lane unless road signs indicate otherwise, if taking the second exit you would normally approach in the left hand lane unless road signs or a good reason indicate otherwise, and when taking the third exit you should normally approach in the right hand lane.

Rule 185 of the highway code advises that on a roundabout you should "give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights"

Rule 186 of the highway code advises that when taking the third exit on a roundabout with four exits, drivers should
  • "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"

  • Rule 187 of the highway code says that drivers should "In all cases watch out for and give plenty of room to" a number of specific road user groups including. quote
    • "traffic crossing in front of you on the roundabout, especially vehicles intending to leave by the next exit
    • traffic which may be straddling lanes or positioned incorrectly"
    This afternoon, by approaching in the right hand line on the Distington by-pass I approached by the right hand lane, which I believe was the correct thing to do under rule 186.

    I am not in the last concerned that the other driver involved chose a different route through the roundabout because that is not what put lives at risk

    What did put at risk the lives of the other driver, myself, our two passengers (one in each car) and other road users was the fact that he ignored rules 185 and 187, failing to give plenty of room when required by the Highway code to do so in what looked like a deliberate attempt to make it difficult for me to safely get into the right lane.

    This is far from being the first time I have had difficulty with someone who apparently has a different view from me about the appropriate route over the Howgate Roundabout when heading south down the A595 from the Distington by-pass and towards Whitehaven. But it was by far the closest to causing what could have been a nasty accident.

    The Highway code is clear that in such cirumstances you try to keep clear of other vehicles even if you think they are wrongly positioned. There is no consolation in being right if you kill someone.


    Anonymous said...

    So everyone in the left-hand lane when going straight on is in the wrong?

    It's disappointing to see you even misrepresenting the Highway Code.
    Rule 186 of the highway code doesn't advise anything about taking the third exit on a roundabout.

    Rule 186 states.
    "When taking an exit to the right or going full circle, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise

    . 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"

    You weren't exiting to the right Chris, you were going straight on.

    Chris Whiteside said...

    With all due respect that does not make sense.

    When is it correct to use the right hand lane going from the Distington by-pass onto that roundabout, then? On your argument nobody should ever use it unless someone had broken down in the left hand lane or they were turning in a complete circle and going back the way they had come.

    The illustration in the online and print versions of the highway code shows a roundabout with a perfect crossroads, with a first exit to the left, a second exit straight ahead, and a third exit to the right. My comments were a fair description of the instructions of the highway code on how to cross such a roundabout.

    Of course, real world roundabouts are less geometrically perfect and we have to use common sense in applying the principles to them.

    If you want to be completely precise, on the actual Howgate roundabout, a person who attempted to go "straight on" from the direction of travel just before entering the roundabout from the Distington by-pass would need to be driving a spider car or other mountain climbing vehicle rather than an ordinary car as they would be leaving the road and trying to climb the side of Messengers' field at a very steep angle.

    Put in precise terms, a person who took the first exit towards the Howgate would be going sharp left, a person who took the second exit towards Low Moresby would be bearing left, and a person who took the A595 towards Whitehaven would be bearing slightly to the right.

    In the context of the highway code, taking the third of three exits which is slightly to the right counts as exiting to the right.

    However, whether you agree with me or not - and obviously some drivers do not or more people would take the right hand lane - is not actually the main point.

    The important point is that drivers should try to give plenty of room to other vehicles even if they think that those other vehicles are incorrectly positioned.

    Chris Whiteside said...

    And no, I did not accuse those who use the left hand lane of being "in the wrong" - I specifically said that I was not concerned about drivers who took a different route from myself.

    Anonymous said...

    So we should give way to the idiots on the road?

    Chris Whiteside said...

    If it's that or play chicken for real on the public highway, yes.

    Particularly if it's that or putting the other driver, whether he or she is in the right or the wrong, in a position where whatever they do risks crashing into another road user.

    Anonymous said...

    Chris, the real problem with that roundabout is the idiotic design, two lanes in and one lane out. The only safe way to use it is to stay on the inside lane, irrespective of rights or wrongs.

    Chris Whiteside said...

    I think you may well have a point about there being a problem with the design of this roundabout.

    Since the road structure in this area is going to have to be looked at prior to the construction of a replacement road for the relevant stretch of the A595, which is going to have to be closed to deal with a potential landslip problem, we should probably ask the Highways England to review this roundabout at the same time.