Roundabouts in Virginia

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Roundabouts are one of the safest types of intersection designs.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) employs roundabouts to increase safety and reduce delays at intersections.

Roundabouts also help reduce:

  • Crashes
  • Traffic delays
  • Fuel consumption
  • Air pollution
  • Construction and maintenance costs

Quite often roundabouts enhance the beauty of intersections.

They can also effectively control speed in residential neighborhoods.

Roundabout Consideration and Alternative Selection Guidance Tool

(For detailed roundabout design criteria, see the VDOT Road Design Manual, Appendix F, Section 2 – Intersection design, spacing standards)

1-Roundabout screening criteria
2-Roundabout cost comparison tool manual v2.5
Roundabout cost comparison Tool v2.6
4-Roundabout design guidance
NCHRP Report 672: Roundabout informational guide second edition, 2010
Roundabout scan review 

Virginia's Roundabout Inventory



2013 VDOT / Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) roundabout workshop

Audio / Video

Transportation Research Board - Roundabouts



Here are fact sheets about roundabouts, which have many safety and operational benefits.


Roundabout Example Sheets


What's Different About Roundabouts?

Roundabouts differ from the old, larger traffic circles in three ways:

  • A roundabout is generally smaller in diameter, requiring slower speeds.
  • At roundabouts, the entering traffic yields the right of way to the circulating traffic. This yield-at-entry rule keeps traffic from stacking up and allows free flow movement.
  • The splitter and center islands of a roundabout deflect entering traffic and encourage drivers who should yield to do so.

VDOT utilizes roundabouts in certain situations to enhance safety and reduce delays.

Why Use a Roundabout?

Safety — Roundabouts have been shown to reduce fatal and injury crashes as much as 75 percent. The reduction is attributed to slower speeds and reduced number of conflict points.

Low maintenance — Roundabouts eliminate maintenance and electricity costs associated with traffic signals. This can be as much as $5,000 a year per intersection.

Capacity — By yielding at the entry rather than stopping and waiting for a green light, the delay is significantly reduced.

Environment — Fewer delays translate to decreased fuel consumption and cleaner air.

Aesthetics — The central island provides an opportunity to beautify the intersection with landscaping.

How Do I Drive in Roundabouts?

Right turns

  • Slow down and prepare to yield to traffic as you approach the roundabout.
  • On the approach, if it is a dual lane roundabout, you must be in the right lane.
  • You must yield to the traffic already in the roundabout.
  • Stay to the right as you approach your turn.
  • Place your right turn signal on until you have exited the roundabout.

Note: Cars in the figures show the position prior to the maneuver.

Roundabout -- right turns

Making a right turn in a roundabout.

Straight ahead

  • Slow down and prepare to yield as you approach the roundabout.
  • Unless signs or lane markings indicate an exclusive right turn, approach in the right lane and stay in that lane through the roundabout.  
  • If this is a two-lane roundabout and the right lane is blocked by dense traffic or a road obstruction, approach and continue through the roundabout in the left lane.
  • You must yield to traffic already in the roundabout.
  • Display your right turn signal just past the exit before the one you plan to use.

Roundabout -- Straight ahead

Driving straight ahead through a roundabout.

Left turn or U-turn

  • Slow down and prepare to yield as you approach the roundabout.
  • Enter the roundabout in the left lane (if it is a two-lane approach) and stay in that lane throughout the roundabout.
  • You must yield to traffic already in the roundabout.  
  • Signal your turn just past the exit prior to the one you will use.

Roundabout -- left or u-turn

Making a left turn in a roundabout.


  • Always yield to pedestrians who may be crossing the road as you approach the roundabout.
  • Always watch for pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorcyclists.  
  • Buses and trucks may need more than one lane to enter or leave a roundabout. Keep clear of them.
  • Always yield to vehicles that are in the roundabout.

What Do Roundabout Signs Look Like?

Roundabouts are easy to use. You simply position your vehicle correctly and indicate where you want to go.

Roundabout “yield” signs together with “yield” line markings are placed at the intersection of each approach road with the roundabout.

Signs will advise that you are approaching a roundabout. In Virginia, roundabouts can be one or two lanes.

Roundabout signs

Sample signing and pavement marking plan for a roundabout


Page last modified: Jan. 26, 2018