How a New Colorado Roundabout Law Will Change How to Use Them
Love 'em or hate 'em, roundabouts are here to stay. Personally, I love them. If only all the other drivers knew how to use them, they truly would ease traffic and the amount of time you spend waiting in it for the light to turn green or people to figure out who's next at a four-way stop.
They're also much safer - contrary to what many people believe - because even though you oftentimes don't need to stop, everyone is going much slower than they would be cruising through a green-lit intersection or worse, running a red light with cross-traffic flowing. Those are where the worst accidents occur.
As a refresher, when approaching a roundabout, vehicles to the right should always yield to vehicles on their left. Meaning, if someone is already in the roundabout, you are to allow them to continue in it and pass by before you enter. Only when no traffic is coming from your left should you enter the roundabout but the beauty of that is if nobody is coming, you don't need to stop, only yield. That's what makes them so much more efficient than stop signs - or worse - red lights you wait at while no cars are coming either way and the other lights are green.
The Colorado Department of Transportation adds some other best practices when navigating a roundabout in your vehicle:
- When entering the roundabout, yield to traffic already navigating it
- When a safe gap is available, merge into roundabout traffic
- As you travel the roundabout, pay attention to signage and merging vehicles
- In the roundabout, you are allowed the right-of-way, but pay attention to inexperienced roundabout travelers
- When you reach your desired exit point, signal to alert fellow motorists that you are exiting the roundabout and safely move out of it
It's fair to say a good number of people do use the roundabouts around Northern Colorado correctly and efficiently. But there are also quite a few who have no idea what they're doing, and let's be honest - they are annoying.
However, come October 1, 2023, roundabouts will be getting a new twist that may impact how even well-educated and experienced roundabout drivers make it through to the other side.
HB23-1014 was passed earlier this year and signed into legislation by Governor Jared Polis, and officially goes into effect the first of next month. It's called the "Yield to Larger Vehicles in Roundabouts" law and provides some exceptions to who enters at which point.
In a nutshell, all smaller vehicles need to yield to vehicles longer than 35 feet or wider than 10 feet, like trucks, buses, RVs, and others like emergency vehicles, in most cases when in or around a roundabout.
In a nutshell, if you're entering a roundabout and a large or emergency vehicle is also entering a roundabout, you need to yield to them regardless of who may have the right of way if it was two normal vehicles were entering at the same time. It doesn't mean, however, if they're behind you that you need to let them pass. More or less it means you need to stay completely out of their way and let them use however much space and however many lanes of the roundabout they need to safely turn their vehicle around the circle and exit wherever they intend to exit.
Failure to do so will result in up to a $70 fine if ticketed. You can check out the full text of the new law on the Colorado General Assembly's website.