Q&A - Arriving at the Same Time in a Roundabout

Q&A ImageWhat is the rule when two or more vehicles arrive at a roundabout (traffic circle) at exactly the same time from four different directions. Do you yield to the vehicle on your right? (as you would at a four way intersection).



Yielding in a roundabout or traffic circle is all about the vehicles already in the traffic circle. If you are entering, you yield to them, and that means yielding to the traffic on your left as we always travel around counter-clockwise here in North America.

If you think about it, any "exactly at the same time" scenario just means that everyone keeps moving.

Simultaneous Roundabout Arrival

I am curious on this one as well.

What if entrances to the roundabout are very close together?

For example at the entrance to Stanly Park in Vancouver, the southerly entrances to the roundabout. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, there isn't room for both of them to proceed - one has to give way.

I have assumed that the car on the right has precedence, as at other types of uncontrolled intersections. Correct?


I suppose in some ways this is akin to everyone arriving at a 4 way stop at precisely the same moment. If you yield to the right, so does everyone else and we still have a standoff.

Roundabout guides require yield signs at the entry and if there is not traffic inside, there is no requirement to yield. Everyone starts in and it is up to all the drivers not to collide with each other. We tend to yield to our right out of practice from other situations where it is required, but there is nothing in the Motor Vehicle Act requiring traffic inside a roundabout or traffic circle to yield to the right.

I've had a look at the Stanley Park entrance and it does appear to me that there is only a short distance between the two entries to the circle. However, if both vehicles go at the same time with a bit of judicious care, they should not collide.
If you are interested in roundabout design, BC follows the Kansas Roundabout Guide subject to applying it's own policies in addition to it.

Another way of looking at things ...

... would be that the roundabout in question here is not a five-way intersection, but rather, it is five T-intersections; and any driver proceeding into one of those intersections, past the Yield sign that was facing them, which behaviour results in a collision, is clearly at fault.

And it would perhaps be more accurate to say that there is nothing in the MVA requiring drivers to yield to the driver on the right, except Section 173(1) which was written to address the issue of uncontrolled intersections.  Incidentally, you also won't find a definition of an uncontrolled intersection in the MVA (so far as I'm aware) any more than you will a 4-Way Stop, in the MVA.

Meanwhile, I've given a lot of thought to Traffic Circles, where there is no signage.  Note that they are designed to be wide enough that the outer apron or curb of the circle pretty much aligns with the sidewalk promulgation.

Now unless you're a total idiot (and I did encounter one or two of these on the roads this last week, but never mind about that) then you're not going to collide with another motorist in one of the quiet neighbourhoods where they're employed.  Signage should not be necessary, common sense should rule.  And thankfully, pedestrians arriving at them tend to look in all directions before proceeding, which can only be a good thing.

But academically, from the legal point of view, it would be interesting to see a ruling from the courts, perhaps.

Our site host (and others) may also be interested in using Google Earth to view the intersection of Garden Avenue & Hope Road in North Vancouver some time.  That is the weirdest 4-Way Roundabout you ever saw ...  



An uncontrolled intersection is one without a traffic control device or traffic control signal installed.

That being the case, then ...

... is a Traffic Circle without any road signs or traffic lights (such as you would find in a quiet neighbourhood, where they might otherwise use a 2-Way Stop) an Uncontrolled Intersection?

Good Question!

My first thought would be yes, it is. Having said that, I will start a quest to see if I can find any case law on the subject of roundabouts and traffic circles here in BC.

Maybe the focus of this thread might better be "how do we share?" rather than "who has the right of way?" The connotations of each are significantly different.

Focus, and like that.

Well, I've said it before and heck I'll say it again - nobody ever has the right of way, under law.  But there are definitely situations where you do not, and these are arguably never more clearly defined than when you're faced with a red & white regulatory sign.

Stop Sign, Yield Sign, Do Not Enter Sign, Crossbuck Sign (wanna argue with a train?).

So as far as I'm concerned, with a Roundabout (where there are Yield signs facing those wishing to enter) it's fundamentally clear - you cannot do so, if it conflicts with another driver.  Or if you want to look at it another way, the guy that's in it, owns it.

But should we presume that the same 'rules' apply with an uncontrolled traffic circle?  Well, I came across some today, and just below the black and white 'Keep Right' sign, it was specified in words to 'Yield to traffic in circle', so that's pretty straightforward.  Must have been a municipal sign - provincial ones avoid words generally; so perhaps governed by local bylaw, rather than Motor Vehicle Act?

Maybe the focus of this thread might better be "how do we share?" rather than "who has the right of way?" The connotations of each are significantly different.

Well they are, and of course this site was created for road safety purposes, rather than legalistic hairsplitting, to my mind.

But it would sure be good if some of the road users out there were to get it clear that no, they don't have the right of way, actually.  But they can be hurt!  So, who's feeling lucky, today? 


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