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Melissa Slager |
Published: Monday, April 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Basic roundabout rule: Yield to approaching car

  • Vehicles cross through the roundabout on Lundeen Parkway at Callow Road.

    Herald file 2008

    Vehicles cross through the roundabout on Lundeen Parkway at Callow Road.

Trish King of Lake Stevens writes: We have two new roundabouts on N. Davies Road at Frontier Village. Please explain how these should work.

I thought, like a stop sign, the first person to arrive has the right of way. If two cars arrive at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way. That is not what's happening. People just barrel through like it's a game of chicken.

Street Smarts responds: A roundabout should be approached not like a four-way stop, but rather as if you're making a right turn from a parking lot onto a street. If there's a car coming from the left, you wait; if not, you go. It's that simple.

Most roundabouts don't have stop signs -- there's no need to stop except to yield to an approaching car. Just as you don't want to pull out in front of a moving car on a street, you don't want to pull out in front of a car in a roundabout. Just as you don't stop in the middle of a street, you don't stop in a roundabout.

Just like on a street, a car inside a roundabout has the right-of-way over a car waiting to enter. However, the waiting driver has some discretion. If a car is inside the roundabout but to the driver's right or on the opposite side, and the driver feels she may safely enter, she may do so. If two drivers arrive at the same time from different streets, each may proceed if there is no traffic approaching from the left.

The main rule to remember is simply to look to the left as you approach and use your best driver's judgment from there.

The state Department of Transportation has a helpful online guide regarding how to drive a roundabout at

Donn Franklin of Lake Stevens writes: I was wondering if there is a schedule for repaving the westbound lanes of the U.S. 2 trestle. I recently rode my motorcycle across and the surface conditions of the road noticeably affect the control of a bike. It's a little bit scary in some places.

Also, does the Department of Transportation have any online source for such information? I looked for awhile but did not find my answer so I thought I would try The Herald.

Dave Chesson, a spokesman for the transportation department, responds: The U.S. 2 westbound trestle was last paved in 2001 and 2002. It is not currently scheduled for repaving. We carefully evaluate pavement conditions every two years -- on the state's biennial budget cycle -- to determine if paving is needed.

Our headquarters materials lab then prioritizes pavement projects, taking into consideration items such as age of the pavement, number of vehicles traveling on the highway, and pavement conditions such as rutting, cracking, etc.

Prioritizing projects is important for several reasons. We don't want to repave a highway before it's necessary, because that would be wasteful. At the same time, if we wait too long, costs can increase dramatically due to increased maintenance and-or damage to the roadbed.

We also prioritize projects because the statewide need is greater than the funding available. Our investment program helps ensure that the right projects are done at the right time. The highest-priority projects are proposed for upcoming legislative budgets. This section of U.S. 2 is scheduled to be evaluated this summer for consideration in the 2015-2017 budget.

Anyone may visit the DOT's projects website for a searchable database of all current and recently completed projects at For more information about our pavement preservation program visit:

E-mail us at Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at

Story tags » Lake StevensU.S. 2Road RepairTraffic Safety

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