Roundabout Rules NSW

Understanding the rules of navigating a roundabout is essential for safe and smooth traffic flow. Upon approaching a roundabout, it’s crucial to reduce speed, prioritising the right of way for vehicles already within the roundabout. This signifies respecting the right of way not only for vehicles on your immediate right but also those that have successfully entered the roundabout from the left or directly opposite to your position. Abiding by these roundabout rules ensures an efficient, accident-free driving experience.

As a safer course driving instructor one of the most common questions I get from learner drivers and their supervising drivers relates to Roundabout Rules for NSW. The questions relating to roundabouts can be grouped into two broad categories.

  1. How do you indicate at roundabouts and
  2. Who has right of way at roundabouts?

Learner drivers and their supervising drivers seem to believe that there are different rules at roundabouts depending on the size of the roundabout. This is not correct. There is only one set of rules for roundabouts in New South Wales. The road rules do not change depending on the size of the roundabout. New South Wales only has one set of road rules.

Tips for Navigating Roundabouts

  • The roundabout sign means slow down, prepare to give way and if necessary stop to avoid a collision
  • When approaching a roundabout you must get into the correct lane. You will notice multiple lane roundabouts have arrows painted on the road. This shows you which way you can go. If no arrows painted on the road and no signs the left lane can turn left or go straight ahead. The right lane can turn right or go straight ahead
  • If turning you must indicate your intention to change direction prior to the roundabout.
  • You must give way to all traffic on the roundabout including cyclists.
  • You may only enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic. The moment any part of your car crosses over the dotted line indicating the beginning of the roundabout you have entered the roundabout. You can not stick the nose of you car into the roundabout and wait for a gap in the traffic.
  • If there is not a safe gap you must stop before the roundabout give way line
  • You can only enter a roundabout if you can complete your manoeuvre safely.

Anyone booking a driving test at a test centre that has difficult roundabouts should book a driving lesson with your local Learn to Drive Driving Instructor prior to the test. In my opinion the hardest roundabout in a driving test in Western Sydney is located at Blacktown.

Roundabout Rules for NSW

Roundabout Rules NSW – Indicating in the Driving Test

Let’s first look at the Guide to the Driving Test. On page 16 of the guide to the driving test it states ‘Indicate left when leaving the roundabout’. The guide goes on to say ‘If practical, you must always signal left when exiting a roundabout’. In both cases there is no mention of the size of the roundabout or the number of lanes in the roundabout.

Of course the guide to the driving test is only 40 pages long and as such a lot of detail is omitted. After all it is only a guide to the test. When you look at the Road users Handbook which is 192 pages long you will find more details. On Page 95 you will find it again states, ‘If practical, you must always signal left when exiting a roundabout’.

This section gives a lot more detail on how to signal correctly at roundabouts as well as information on lane selection. Lane selection is important when approaching a roundabout as well as in the roundabout and exiting a roundabout.

Roundabout Road Rules NSW when do you indicate

The Road Rules are the actual laws that apply to road users in NSW.

According to road rule 118 of the NSW road rules

  1. “If practicable, a driver driving on a roundabout must give a left change of direction signal when leaving the roundabout”.
  2. “The driver must stop giving the change of direction signal as soon as the driver has left the roundabout”.
  3. This rule does not apply to a driver if the driver’s vehicle is not fitted with direction indicator lights”.

As you can see in the actual legislation, there is no mention of the size of the roundabout.

Nor is there a distinction between single lane roundabouts and multiple lane roundabouts. When you are on a roundabout you must indicate before leaving the roundabout ‘if practicable’. According to the Oxford dictionary Practicable is defined as  “able to be done or put into practice successfully”. Meaning everyone is able to put on the indicator before leaving a roundabout.

Therefore from a legal perspective you are required to indicate off roundabouts.

rules for slowing down, giving way and signalling when approaching NSW

Road Users Handbook (Page 96).

Testing officers manual indicating at Roundabouts

Now let’s look at the Driving Test (class C) Testing Officers Manual. Section 6 of the manual deals with signals. Any combination of three or more signal errors during the test will contribute to Fail item 12. Therefore three signal errors is a fail for the driving test.

Firstly the testing officers manual notes the road rules require an exit signal where practicable, however for testing consistency signals are scored in the following manner.

Under section 6.6 of the testing officers manual:

“The driver correctly signalling when entering and leaving a roundabout” states: When leaving a roundabout, a left change of direction signal, is only scored when the roundabout has more than one lane OR there is more than one lane on the exit of the roundabout that we are taking ( the roundabout may only have single lanes within the roundabout, however if there is more than one lane on the exit we are taking, a signal is required).

Roundabout Rules NSW who gives way

The most common urban myth about giving way at a roundabout is “Give Way to your right”. This is not a road rule nor is stated in the guide to the driving test or the Road Users Handbook. Because most people will tell you that give way to your right is the rule at roundabouts let’s have a closer look at what the Roads & Maritime Services says is the rule.

From the Guide to the Driving Test “Vehicles entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout”. Whilst it does not say give way to your right the car on the roundabout that could hit you will come from your right. So you can understand why people would think the rule is give way to your right. However the actual rule give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout has broader consequences.

The Road users handbook uses the same phrase “Vehicles entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout”. In addition the road user handbook also says: “Giving way at a roundabout means the driver must slow down and if necessary stop to avoid a collision”.

When you follow the links and see the actual documents from the Roads & Maritime Services you will notice that they use illustrations of dual lane roundabouts. Do not think that the rules only apply to multiple lane roundabouts. They have simple shown the more complex road situation in their illustrations. Instead of drawing multiple roundabouts to illustrate the various situations at roundabouts.

The Road Rules Roundabouts

Finally let’s have a look at what the road rules have to say about the give way rules for roundabouts. Road rule 114 covers giving way at a roundabout and it says

  1. A driver entering a roundabout must give way to:-

a) Any vehicle in the Roundabout. and

b) A tram that is entering or approaching a roundabout

2. A driver driving in a roundabout must give way to a tram that is in, entering or approaching the roundabout.

3. In this rule a tram includes a bus travelling along tram tracks.