Unsure about roundabout right of way

| 27/02/2017

When exiting the Butterfield roundabout (by AL Thompson’s) heading to Camana Bay, who has right of way to merge, if two cars are turning off at the same time? I understood it was always the right-hand lane which had priority, but my Canadian work colleague believed it was the inside lane who had priority.

Auntie’s answer: This actually is pretty straightforward, except your question might confuse people a bit, so I will clear that up first. When on a two-lane roundabout, which is what the Butterfield is, the inside lane is the same as the right-hand lane.

I think your description comes into play as you enter the Esterley Tibbetts Highway (ETH), which starts with two lanes, one containing arrows indicating a merge. That merge lane is the right-hand one.

What this means is that if you exit the roundabout from the inside lane, you would be entering the ETH in the merge lane and so would need to give way to the cars entering on your left.

Here is the Streetskills brochure, which I hope will help to explain the mysteries of the roundabout.


Category: Ask Auntie, Traffic Questions

Comments (50)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Most of the roundabout problems are caused by ill informed drivers traveling on the outside lane when they do not intend to exit at the first or second spoke. The outside lane is for exit at either the first or second spoke, not for general travel. And all drivers need to indicate their intentions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    And we would expect especially Govt. vehicles (Police, NRA included) to set proper example by using signals….but of course that is glaringly missing!

    • Anonymous says:

      And, as professional drivers who are paid for this service, also buses and taxis.

      • Anonymous says:

        Taxi drivers in Cayman are not professional and most likely unlicensed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The original question has nothing to do with the roundabout, that is just telling you were on the islands they are thinking about. The two lanes are merging that is the only question, where has nothing to do with it. The place they are asking about is actually irrelevant anyway as it will soon be two full lanes when the new road is complete.
    The other persons comments about the signage at that roundabout are correct though as they show two lanes from “Parkers” straight across the roundabout towards Eastern Ave when there is only one exit lane!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Traffic Law allows for a fine of up to $1000 for failing to indicate. How about we start enforcing that and then count the accidents? It would be a self-funding Traffic regulation tool. Never knowing what the car in front, speeding around you from the left, or inbound from right is going to do…causes impacts, impedes traffic flow, and creates anger, and confusion.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are too many exits on most roundabouts which adds to the problems. I believe there should be a maximum of three exits spaced evenly around the center circle, which also increases the angle of entry and the need to reduce speed upon entry. For example at the Kings Court roundabout traffic entering from the direction of Lions Centre do not need to slow down at all to pass through the roundabout on to the Linford Pierson Highway; like wise traffic entering from Tropical Gardens direction do not need to slow down.Another problem is the size of the circles, and the number of lanes.Too many times roundabouts are used to replace four way intersections. One of the best functioning roundabouts is the one opposite Mango Tree Restaurant; small circle,three exits , one lane each..perfect.

  6. CGS says:

    Roundabouts here are not confusing if people stop assuming that because we drive on the left, they should just stick to the left on the roundabout and exit whenever they feel like it.
    This happens regularly on the Chrissie Tomlinson roundabout and the roundabout by the AutoSpa.

    Someone side-swiped me on the the Chrissie Tomlinson roundabout because she thought she had the right of way because she was on the left!
    She entered the roundabout coming from the Shamrock bypass and she was exiting, like me, to go to Ocean club so she should have been in the inner lane but she decided she was just going to drive on the left. I was in front of her and she should have actually given me way but she just came barrelling through, luckily I looked in my side mirror before proceeding to exit.

    In the mornings those drivers entering the roundabout from Red Bay Primary also incorrectly get in the left lane, and drive around in the left lane to exit to go to town. Just because they need to eventually get in the left lane to exit to Sound Sound does not mean they should get in the left lane from on the roundabout!

    The Streetskills rules clearly indicate that if you are exiting one the 1st or 2nd exits, you should be on the outer lane, if you are exiting the 3rd or 4th exits you should be on the inner lane. Can’t get any simpler than that, just have some ignorant/selfish drivers here.

    • Anonymous says:

      This has happened to me a lot too. As I know I am getting off on the Shamrock Road E exit, I make sure to be on the inside lane. Apparently several people do not, and will pass the other two exits in the outer lane.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately the Red bay primary scenario exists because of drivers joining the roundabout from the prospect point rat run, they join the roundabout when the first left is free, irrespective of the cars on the roundabout, they can’t join and stop a car trying to exit from Red Bay School entrance, they should wait until both lanes are free before joining the roundabout, but that negates the ‘short cut’ to get around everyone else. This leads to the current scenario, however two wrongs do not make a right. Just stating facts. The cars from Prospect point have to wait until the roundabout is free, both lanes, this would lead to less cars being drawn down this ‘short cut’ and blocking traffic from Red Bay school being able to exit in the left lane from the inside lane. I’m ashamed to say I enter the roundabout in the left lane from Red Bay and exit to go down S.sound, a) because traffic from PPoint blocks my exit b) because it overtakes on the inside and c) never lets anyone join or move over. If it were up to me I would restrict access to PPoint and Red Bay, I think that the main flow of traffic would improve.

    • Anonymous says:

      One does not need to be on the inside lane to exit straight ahead.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You drive on the left in Cayman if the right hand lane needs to merge the left hand lane has priority, give way to the right is when entering a round about.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Biggest problem on round abouts are people not signaling their intent or incorrectly signaling their intent. The only solution to this problem is for the police to sit at round abouts and ticket people who refuse to indicate their intent. Also there are thousands of people who have earned their Driver’s Licensing 20+ years ago when half of the signs and junctions on the road today were not used then. It should be mandatory to do over your written test after a certain period of time.

  9. Lyndhurst Bodden says:

    My thoughts: Drive with extreme caution and play close attention to what the other drivers are doing. Don’t ever assume that the driver to your left or right is going to follow the rules or that he/she even know the rules!

    • Anonymous says:

      Quite the opposite, always assume the other driver won’t follow the rules and has no clue what they are :).

  10. Anonymous says:

    The rule of the road surely is ‘always give way to the right’ and in fact the Streetskills Brochure clearly states this in the red section bottom left.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that refers to entering the roundabout, ie when entering the car on the roundabout (on your right) has priority over those joining. If you are in a merge lane, the one that disappears, then you have to give way to traffic already in the main lane, think of it like the entry lane to a motorway, or freeway, you have to give way to traffic on the main road, in this case it just happens to be on the other side of the road.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are entering a roundabout, then give way to the cars coming from the right already on the roundabout. If you are in the left lane exiting a two lane roundabout, the car to your right must give way if it exiting with you.

    • Anonymous says:

      The rule of the road is not “always give way to the right” unless you lived in a mirror imaged version of France or Belgium. Give way to the right only applies to entering a roundabout. The right lane on exiting the road in question merges into the left lane and therefore the left lane has priority. Saying that I would never trust anyone to drive properly in that area. It is prudent to assume that every driver is drunk/high and has no clue about the rules of the road.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Given that it is illegal to overtake in a roundabout, on exit the car in front ought to have right of way to the one behind, and if in doubt, yield. These 2 lane merge zones should be treated like a zipper on busy days – and for the most part – work that way naturally regardless of signage. Problems arise when angry selfish people overtake or push their way ahead believing the world owes them something. My advice is to let them go because you won’t want them on your bumper anyway. Peace.

  12. ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

    The Streetskills brochure appears to have an error in it which has in turn been replicated on the signs on the Butterfield roundabout. If there are two lanes entering the roundabout and only one on the exit and you are going to the 12 o’clock exit you need to be in the left lane. Having signs before the roundabout showing both lanes can take the 12 o’clock exit when there is only one lane there is going to cause accidents.

    Using indicators would also be helpful generally not just on roundabouts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Incorrect. When one is going straight ahead one can exit from either lane.

    • Anonymous says:

      Northbound there are two lanes that merge into one. I think you mean the westside exit only has one lane. Same as at Century 21 circle.

  13. Vote For Me! says:

    Caymanians have the right of way. Only generational ones though, not them paper kind.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Roundabouts in Cayman cause accidents. The driving culture here is not suited to the discipline needed. I witness daily people exiting off the inside lane with no indication. I witness daily, roundabouts blocked by traffic not allowing traffic to enter. People approach roundabouts way to fast, the rumble strips seem to be more of a cue to go faster. Hardly anyone uses indicators when entering a roundabout. Take them out and replace with lights, its the only solution.

    • Anonymous says:

      People are allowed to signal and exit from inside lane into a double lane exit. It’s drivers that race around the outside lane overtaking those exiting from middle that cause collisions.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thats the point SIGNAL, many don’t and you can only exit if it is clear to do so.

    • Anonymous says:

      seems quite sensible. Rather than having police officer/s to monitor the roundabout/s all the time (or most of the time), it would be much more cost-effective and safe to replace the roundabouts with traffic lights. How many accidents happen in Cayman at/around traffic lights? Now compare that to roundabouts.

      • Anonymous says:

        So just because the muppets on this islands don’t know how to drive we have to install traffic lights! If you go to many other countries they can teach school children to navigate roads & roundabouts.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I see a few idiots have found this article. It is simple, the person on the outside lane is not allowed to overtake someone on the inside lane – this avoids the person in the inside lane t-boning the person on the outside

  16. Anonymous says:

    The merger of two lanes so close to the roundabout there was terrible design. It has caused many accidents including at least one fatality.

  17. Anonymous says:

    to be honest, they need to stop following englands rules for round a bouts. Not only is it confusing. but it causes accidents.

    The easiest way to implement a no accident roundabout rule.

    Simply this. If you are in the outside lane of a roundabout, you should ALWAYS take the first exit out. No exceptions.
    inside lane of the roundabout, you can take all exits except the first exit.

    There. I have solved the accident problem and confusion in the roundabouts

    If you think that’s too simple. Draw a roundabout and find a flaw in my rules.

    It would make roundabouts accident free. And much easier to understand and navigate.

    • Anonymous says:

      We don’t follow England’s rules which is part of the problem. English rules say you can only exit from the left hand lane so you have to switch lanes after the exit before your exit. And from the left hand lane you can only take the next exit.

      • Anonymous says:

        Spot on! People here simply move from the inside lane without indicating on the exit they are taking. In the UK if you are on the inside lane at your exit you have to go around again. Never see that here.

        • Anonymous says:

          You have never driven in England have you? One can exit from the inside lane if going straight ahead. No-one has ever, ever, gone all the way round the inside lane to exit straight ahead, apart from the odd Billybob Floyover American tourist who is crapping themself.

          • Anonymous says:

            I suggest you read the highway code;
            When taking an exit to the right or going full circle (unless signs or markings indicate otherwise):
            Signal right and approach the exit in the right hand lane
            Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to reach your exit
            Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take

            • Anonymous says:

              This idiot cannot read his own comment. The quote from the Highway Code proves the point he says is wrong. The quote is about going right or all the way round NOT going left or straight ahead.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree. The problem in Cayman is that the round abouts are too small to allow for correct usage. There is no time (space) to make correct lane changes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes because having ‘Cayman only’ rules to roundabouts wouldn’t cause any issues! The rules aren’t just UK rules, they actually apply to all countries. I can’t believe people have problems with them, took me about 5 mins teaching for both my kids to be able to use them correctly. Left = left lane, right = right lane, straight over = both lanes – as long as there are two exits, otherwise left lane. Or put it even simpler, left lane for everything except a right turn, which marries nicely with you supposedly staying in the left lane of a dual carriageway unless overtaking or making an immediate right turn, emphasis on immediate, not pulling out to the right lane because you need to turn right 5 miles down the road, or because it’s easier!

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed, statistics show that most collisions occur when changing lanes, in the previous suggested scenario, going straight over, you would need to changes lanes to get into the right lane, navigate the roundabout, then change back to the left lane, vs enter in the left lane, stay in the left lane and exit in the left lane, smarter people than you are I figured this shtuff out long ago

    • Anonymous says:

      And that is not the English rules anyway, on a two lane roundabout…

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is that the roundabout then becomes a bottleneck, taking 2 lanes down to 1 for persons taking the second exit (which is straight more often than not).

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a good theory, and works well to prevent accidents, however one thing which it doesn’t address is traffic flow. If we followed this system, then (using Butterfield Roundabout as an example) when you come to a roundabout with 4 exits (as most are) 25% of the traffic would be in the outside lane (taking the 1st exit) and 75% of the traffic would be in the inside lane (25% going straight on (2nd exit)), 25% going right (3rd exit) and 25% taking the 4th exit). Granted this is dividing the exit options equally which is not normally the case, but hopefully you will see the traffic issues that would build up in this scenario.

    • Anon says:

      I agree with you 8.57am. The same applies to the CTMH roundabout. Wouldnt it make more sense if cars on the inside lane coming from town going east, give cars on the outside lane, coming from town going east the right of way, when merging onto that road going east. The third exit coming off the roundabout going east is what im referring to. Cars on the inside lane should NOT exit on the road going to prospect or onto the new bypass road from the inside lane. They should move to the outside lane. Cars on the outside lane can exit on all three exits.

    • William V says:

      On roundabouts on our main roads, the majority of drivers go “straight” – the second exit. This means that on every roundabout on the island the majority of drivers would have to merge into the right lane before entering the roundabout which would cause massive traffic issues and probably create even more accidents. The current law has is right. It is structured exactly like a stoplight intersection with 2 lanes.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t really matter if your right, just expect the other driver to do whatever he feels.