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Roundabout accidents when drivers exit in the wrong lane

Exiting in the wrong lane is one of the main causes of accidents at roundabouts. The Highway Code sets out rules which govern correct lane usage in this situation. However, drivers do not always manoeuvre correctly.

If a driver exits a roundabout in the wrong lane resulting in a road traffic accident which causes personal injury to another motorist, a claim for compensation can be made. However, one of the main obstacles to this is in proving the driver was negligent and at fault.

What is the correct way to exit a roundabout?

Section 186 of the Highway Code explains the signals and positions required to exit a roundabout safely. When taking an exit, drivers are required to obey the following (unless signs or markings indicate otherwise):

First exit

  • Signal left and approach the exit in the left lane
  • Keep to the left and signal left to leave

Exit to the right or going full circle

  • Signal right and approach the roundabout in the right lane
  • Keep to the right until you need to change lanes to exit
  • Signal left after passing the exit before the one you want to take

Intermediate exit

  • Select the appropriate lane on approach to roundabout
  • Stay in lane until you need to change to exit
  • Signal left after passing the exit before the one you want to take

In practice, motorists do not always adhere to these rules. Not only can roundabouts be confusing to navigate, but bad habits or ignorance can result in incorrect lane usage.

Why does incorrect lane usage lead to accidents?

By failing to exit in the approved lane, drivers can end up blocking or cutting up other motorists on the roundabout.

Most accidents in this situation are caused when vehicles turning right on a roundabout stay in the left lane until they reach their exit. This means they are preventing other road users exiting who are correctly positioned in the right lane.

Proving wrong lane driver liability

In Slater vs Bancroft [1999], a driver was held 100% negligible for an accident due to being in the incorrect lane for the intended exit and not taking care when adjusting the position. However, liability is not always clear cut.

Both parties may be at fault, or the driver could have taken care when repositioning despite being in the wrong lane. Often both parties will argue that they were positioned correctly on the roundabout. In order to prove other driver liability, CCTV footage and witnesses of the accident will often be called upon to prove who was really responsible. A solicitor can assist the Claimant in requesting footage to support their claim.

Progressing with a claim

Because road traffic accidents on roundabouts can be complex, especially on large roundabouts with multiple lanes, seeking expert legal advice is essential to a successful claim.

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