A new roundabout


It looks as if they’re making a roundabout a few miles from where I live, on the road towards Jeju City. This is the junction affectionately known as the ‘junction of doom’. Up until now, six roads have met here, and there has been no traffic control at all. It’s negotiated by slowing down, watching what the other road users are doing, and going when it seems to be your turn. That works, given the relatively light traffic.

A roundabout may improve the traffic flow, but it’s not quite as straightforward as it seems. Drivers seem unsure about who has right of way. You can’t be sure when you’re on a roundabout that you have right of way over cars approaching. Conversely, cars on the roundabout may slow down as you approach. I really must check the Highway Code.

It gets worse. Cars drive on the right, and roundabouts are negotiated in an anticlockwise direction. I’ve seen cars go the wrong way round a roundabout, as a shortcut, if they’re turning left. Indeed, on two occasions I’ve been on a bus that’s done it.

The discipline at traffic lights isn’t much better. It’s legal to turn right on a red light, if it’s safe to do so. However, I’ve seen cars get into the right-hand lane to pass a queue waiting at traffic lights only to then go straight over. I even watched a lorry do that once at a major intersection when the lights were red and then turn left.

For all that, speed limits are low, vehicles typically travel at a more relaxed speed than in the UK, and most roads are not busy at all. If local highway protocols are not as I would expect, perhaps they’ve developed like that because they work.